The forgotten: Foong with an elderly inmate of Rumah Kasih in Taman Mutiara Barat.
PETALING JAYA: Each week, at least 10 elderly Malaysians end up in old folks homes and that is just the official average, based on centres registered under the Welfare Department.
According to department director-general Datuk Norani Hashim, an average of 536 elderly persons were placed in registered centres each year between 2009 and 2012.
“The actual number could be much higher as some privately run homes are not registered with the department,” she said.
She said between 1993 and last year, a total of 4,968 senior citizens were placed in 211 centres nationwide.
“Perak has the most number with 1,339 in 56 centres, followed by Selangor with 860 in 45 centres but only nine of the centres are under direct supervision of the department,” she added.
In Kuala Lumpur, Foong Peng Lam, the coordinator of Rumah Kasih, which takes in old folks and patients found abandoned in government hospitals, said at least one person was admitted each week.
He said most of the patients were abandoned because their families claimed they could not afford to take care of them.
“Their family members do not provide any form of financial assistance and do not come over to visit,” he said.
The home has taken in over 600 abandoned individuals since its inception in 2000.
“Weak elderly people who had collapsed by the roadside were also brought in by strangers.
“There were also those who were brought in by family members who never return to visit or take them home,” he said.
Foong said the number of abandoned patients had been increasing steadily – from seven in 2000, to the 60 at present.
Apart from Hospital Kuala Lumpur, the home has been taking in patients from Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Hospital Selayang, Tung Shin Hospital, Hospital Seremban, Hospital Sungai Buloh, University Malaya Medical Centre, Hospital Ampang and Hospital Kajang.
He said the hospitals would first try to contact the families, who would usually promise to take the patient home, but never turn up.
“This can go on for up to two months before they bring a patient in.
“Even when we manage to contact the families they usually refuse to take any responsibility,” he added.
Figures from the National Population and Family Development Board, an agency under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, show that about 675,000 elderly parents did not receive financial support from their children in 2004 when the Fourth Malaysian Population and Family Survey was conducted.
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