Universal social pension

A UNIVERSAL social pension is necessary to reduce the overall burden on the State for elderly care and also help families look after the elderly, says the Asia Pacific Forum on Families International.

APFAM International’s vice president and executive director (honorary) Mohammed Hassan Khan said the dignity of older people was linked to community perceptions of the ageing process.

“Old age is often seen as being synonymous with uselessness, illness or dependency, and lack of concern about the rights of older people,” he said.

“Dignity requires that older people be able to make decisions and exercise choices in matters of importance to them.

“To do this, they need access to information about a wide range of issues, including financial management and community services.”

Mr Khan said lack of information led to lack of control and inevitably, to dependence on others.

He said many older people were only able to live in the community because of the support of families, friends and neighbours.

“Studies indicate that most care of frail or disabled older people is provided by women — wives, daughters or daughters-in-law.

“Care of elderly relatives may result in significant costs, especially to the women in the family.

“Some of these are direct costs in relation to loss of earnings while others are harder to evaluate, for example, disruption to family life, loss of leisure time and deterioration in the carer’s health.”

Mr Khan said this was the reason a universal social pension would reduce the overall burden on the State for elderly care and also assist families in providing care to the elderly.