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Thai Society Quickly Changing for People Facing Retirement

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Unlike previous generations in Thailand, people entering their mandatory retirement age now and in the future will likely need to save a substantial sum of money as the cost of living in the Kingdom continues to rise.

Without adequate savings for those planning for retirement, the retirees risk struggling on their own, minus support from younger relatives or the meager pension from the government.

In Thai society, extended families are no longer the norm. The days when parents could simply wait for their adult children to help them are long since past. Now people need to think about retirement plans.

In today’s world, many young couples say they don’t want to live with their in-laws if they marry. When families live apart, financial resources cannot be shared as easily.

Additionally, more Thais especially millennials are staying single and opting to have pets instead of children.

As of 2017, 10% of Thailand’s senior population lived alone. Between 2007 and 2017, the number of elderly people living alone increased by 4.5 percent per year.

It is estimated that each person needs about 3.1 million baht to live comfortably for around 30 years in retirement.

Elderly in Retirement Homes

Additionally, older adults with health issues or who are losing their independence may need to move into retirement or nursing homes.

For a basic bed and basic daily support in a nursing home, one will pay about 15,000 baht a month. The fee does not include the cost of adult diapers, medicines, or other personal amenities. Higher fees apply to elderly residents who require more assistance.

Those who prefer a private room pay almost twice as much per month, while the cost of a room at a luxury facility reaches 50,000 baht or more per month.

Healthy people, however, can move into senior housing projects that include services and facilities tailored to the elderly. Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, for example, has developed the Senior Complex, where a condominium is available for 1.8 million baht for a 30-year lease. Private operators typically charge much more.

For example, the price of units at Jin Wellbeing is expected to start at 4.1 million baht, according to Kasikorn Research Centre. In the meantime, living in an elegant villa in a housing project like Sansara can cost up to 21 million baht.

Retirement Very Expensive

Although retiring can be very expensive, there are several foundations that provide much cheaper alternatives for elderly people.

Those who make a 200,000-baht donation and are willing to pay 1,500 baht per month in maintenance to the Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara Somdet Phra Sangharaj Wat Bovoranives Vihara Foundation under Royal Patronage can stay in 36-square-meter rooms. However, the number of available rooms is limited.

Furthermore, the government does not plan to build more retirement housing complexes for the elderly, despite the country’s rapidly aging population. The Thai population will have a fifth of the elderly by the end of the year, and 28 percent by 2033.

Retirement Homes at Capacity

The focus now is on active aging. Our goal is to keep people healthy as long as possible. Suchitra Pittayanorasate, director-general of the Department of Older Persons, said that the department encourages the elderly to save money and creates an elderly-friendly environment.

Currently, the department oversees 12 retirement homes and one day center for the elderly. There are 1,200 people served by these centers. The demand is high, however.

Their capacity is already full,” Suchitra added, adding that the government is also pushing local administrations to take an active role in caring for the elderly. The result is that 13 old people’s homes are now run by local authorities.

“We believe that older people should live in their own communities. It will be more enjoyable for them,” Suchitra said.

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