CHIANG RAI – Like many other countries all over the world, Thailand’s population has continually been aging. It is preparing to cope with the situation by empowering senior citizens, so that the community will fully benefit from their wisdom and experience.
Several relevant government agencies are working together in promoting physical and mental health among senior citizens, who are recognized as valuable resources.
Statistics show that the proportion of persons aged over 60 years in Thailand now accounts for 13 percent of the total population. In the next 20 years, the aging population is expected to account for 25 percent of the population.
Many senior citizens can still work actively and contribute greatly to society. They have more experience and may constitute the wealth of knowledge and experience from which younger generations can learn and benefit. The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security now serves as the core agency in organizing various activities to enhance the potential of senior citizens and provide them with occupational training, as well as looking after their well-being and welfare.
Thailand’s Older Persons Act of 2003 aims to protect, promote, and support the rights and benefits of older persons, including social welfare, medical services, education, occupation, or occupational training, and social activities. In this regard, public and private organizations have been urged to participate and share responsibility in development programs for the elderly.
At community level, Thailand has set up community-based Multi-purpose Senior Citizen Centers to improve social services for older persons, promote their participation in social activities, and compile valuable data derived from older persons’ wisdom. More clubs, or centers, where the elderly can join social activities and events in local communities have been established, as well.
For the benefit of older persons affected by the global financial and economic downturn, a universal monthly subsistence allowance for those over 60 years of age without any pension plan was implemented in 2009, when older persons across the country began to receive a monthly allowance of 500 baht.
Under a new income support policy, starting from October 2011, senior citizens have been provided with progressive monthly allowances, above the previous flat rate of 500 baht. Those aged between 60 and 69 receive a monthly allowance of 600 baht. Older persons aged between 60 and 69 receive 700 baht, and the elderly, aged 70-79, receive 800 baht. A monthly allowance of 1,000 baht is offered to persons aged 90 and over.
In order to underline the significance of older persons and to show gratitude and respect to them, Thailand has picked 13 April as National Day for Older Persons. The day coincides with Songkran, which is the traditional Thai New Year. The tradition of respecting the senior generation is regarded as a national trait passed on from generation to generation. It also shows that young people are aware of the value and importance of the elderly.