Saint Mary’s Hospital Luodong (SMHL) drew attention to the lack of proper medical care for Taiwan’s rapidly growing elderly population on the eve of the Double Ninth Festival yesterday, which falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, calling for a more secure and friendly environment for elderly people.
Citing statistics released by the Ministry of the Interior, SMHL superintendent Chen Yung-hsing (陳永興) said that with Taiwan experiencing the fastest aging population in the world, the number of elderly people in need of care has increased three-fold in the past 13 years.
“However, only 3.9 percent of them are receiving decent nursing care from specialized institutions, while the majority — 600,000 elderly people — are left unattended,” Chen said.
Comparing Taiwan with European countries in the area of medical care, Chen said the country trailed far behind Sweden, Germany and England, where 30 percent of their elderly population are properly attended in care organizations and 70 percent through community care.
The Council for Economic Planning and Development has forecast that Taiwan will enter a “super-aging society” — defined as countries with more than 20 percent of their total population aged 65 or older — in 2025, Chen said.
“While it may take 24 years for the percentage of Japan’s elderly population to reach the benchmark of 20 percent, Taiwan is predicted to take only 22 years to do that,” Chen said, casting doubt on whether the country is prepared for the “coming tsunami in aging.”
Submitting a three-point appeal for better care for elderly citizens, whether at hospitals, long-term care facilities or at home, Chen called for “medical care, nursing care and rearing for the elderly.”
Senior Citizen’s Welfare Foundation director Lee Hui-mei (李惠美) attributed the lack of proper medical care to a shortage of nursing personnel, 60 percent of long-term care institutions not being up to standard and only 5 percent of nursing facilities meeting the criteria for being elderly-friendly.
“The SMHL is in the midst of raising funds for the construction of an elderly-friendly medical building, in the hope of providing a friendly medical environment that meet the demands of our elderly citizens,” Chen said.