KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 2,144 senior citizens have been abandoned at hospitals across the country from 2018 till June this year.
According to the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, 914 of them – 656 men and 258 women – were successfully reunited with family members.
However, 1,230 senior citizens were completely alone with no family members, it added. The number comprised 650 men and 380 women.
Last year alone, the ministry said, 752 senior citizens were abandoned and of that number, 412 had been placed in welfare homes.
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"Social workers in hospitals made efforts to track down relatives. If none could be located, the senior citizens were placed in government or private welfare institutions," the ministry said in a written reply dated Wednesday (July 20).
The ministry added that a number of those abandoned had relatives on file such as spouses, children or siblings.
"Social welfare officers will try their best to track down these relatives.
"However, some relatives who were successfully traced refused to step forward to care for the senior citizens involved," it added.
"Among the reasons given for refusing to care for the elderly were family problems. Some even denied knowing the senior citizen involved," it continued.
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The ministry also said hospitals often faced challenges in tracing next of kin when the senior citizens involved could not provide accurate information such as IC numbers, phone numbers or residential address.
"Many of these cases consist of vagrants and the homeless who were referred to hospitals by the public for treatment.
"Senior citizens involved in drug and alcohol abuse cases were also referred to hospitals," it said.
The ministry said a draft on a proposed Senior Citizens Act is currently being prepared and this will cover various aspects such as rights, protection, care and support that will involve family members and the community.