Think about this: Who will take care of us in our old age?
We now have more than 12 million senior citizens (60 years old and above) in our 2021 population of 111,046,913 or about 10.8 percent, according to reelected Senior Citizens party list Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes. Three years ago, our elderly population was estimated at only 8.2 percent of total, according to the Commission on Population (POPCOM). They then projected the country hitting 14 percent between 2030 and 2035 or eight years from now. But clearly, we are just over 3 percent away from “aged society” category of 14 percent and very soon on the next level of “super aged society at 20 percent.
With the situation rapidly changing, there is an urgent and real need to implement “social protection systems” to catch up with the social conditions of the elderly, most of which are in poor health, without pension and focused health programs for both men and women.
Comparatively speaking, we are very far behind among our neighbors in taking care of our elderly. In a recent list of best countries for older people, we are number 83 out of 167 nations and last among ASEAN nations. To name a few, Malaysia is at (40), Indonesia (57), Thailand (64) Vietnam (73) , Taiwan (20), Hongkong (17) and Singapore 15.
Congress have been generous to various programs for the elderly but these are stop-gap solutions and still not enough. President Duterte must sign the law increasing the pension of indigent seniors from 500 to one thousand pesos a month before he leaves Malacanang. Digitalization of senior citizens’ lists and their benefits is top priority together with the strict implementation of online discounts in purchases of essential goods and commodities. I was also informed that a National Center for Geriatric Health will soon be established and around in support of the more than 80 buildings for senior citizens were built across the country ready to serve their constituents. Free Dialysis and free maintenance medicines are also being addressed on the community level.
But again, we need more comprehensive approaches in helping our elderly today and in the generations to come. And we should seriously study one that has been tried and very successful by other nations.
Our present dilemma happened in South Korea fourteen years ago or in 2008 when they realized their population was getting old.
They asked themselves:
I’m taking care of my parents but I have fewer children, so who will take care of me when I get sick in my old age?
Who will take care of ME in my old age?
Who will take care of US in our old age?
These questions jolted the entire South Korean people and government fourteen years ago or in July 2008 to take care of their rapidly aging population and lack of family members to provide care.
Their political leaders, management, labor and employee groups all agreed to implement the 5th social insurance called the “long term care insurance (LTCI) .
They had two major purposes; first,to improve the quality of life of their elderly and secondly, mitigate the burden of elderly care.
This LTCI is different from pension, health insurance, employment insurance and industrial accident compensation insurance everybody has to pay while employed or in business. Statutory LTC contribution rates to the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) increased from an initial 4.05 percent to today’s 10.51 percent providing home-based care and institutional care to elderly covering all kinds of physical conditions including 780,000 dementia cases.. Their government and people are now prepared if they become a super aged society in 2026.
A resounding success that should be copied and implemented here ASAP. I expect the Senior Citizens party list, Congress, DSWD, DILG , DOH and the whole of government to support this answer to our “aging population”.
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