Thu, Sep 07, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Elderly can benefit from community-based activities: Ko

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said the city government has set up 325 locations for elderly people to have a meal together or take part in group activities with a view to encouraging the elderly to get out of the house and be more active.

Ko yesterday posted on Facebook a photograph of himself eating with elderly people at one of the locations.

Large daycare centers might not be the best solution for the Taiwan’s rapidly aging society, Ko wrote in the post.

“I think care services for elderly people should return to communities and establish meal-sharing locations where people can have affectionate ties,” he wrote. “To have groups take care of individuals is the effective and humane way.”

As of July, Taipei had a population of approximately 2.68 million, nearly 430,000 of whom are older than 65, Taipei Department of Civil Affairs statistics showed — exceeding the population under 14 years of age.

The data also show that young people continue to move out of the city.

The department estimates that the city will by 2020 have become a “hyper-aged society,” in which 20 percent of the population is older than 65.

The meal-sharing spot Ko visited was established at National Taiwan Normal University in April and serves as a recreational center where elderly residents can take part in four different activities or classes and three meal-sharing sessions per week.

Ko said Taiwanese are on average bedridden for about seven years of their lives and the city government’s goal is not only to help people live longer, but to help them live healthily and happily.

At the centers, the elderly are offered city-subsidized lunches, Ko said, adding that eating together is not the main goal of these locations, but rather a means to encourage elderly people to leave the home, participate in activities and build caring networks.

“If a group of people often dine together and one day one of them does not show up, the others will be concerned and care for the person,” Ko said.

He said the Taipei Department of Information Technology is designing an education vehicle that could tour the centers to teach elderly people how to use the latest digital products, while Taipei City Hospital has plans to design an outpatient vehicle for vaccination and cancer screening services.

Ko said the city also plans to issue a senior citizen card charged with NT$480 in credit every month to encourage the elderly to take the bus, MRT or taxi, ride the Maokong Gondola, rent YouBikes, or visit the zoo and other public facilities more often.

Elderly people with disabilities or dementia may require long-term care at daycare centers, Ko said, adding that the city offers 17 government-funded centers, which it plans to expand to 31 centers by 2020.

However, his goal is for the majority of the elderly to be taken care of in their own communities, Ko said.

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