Family support for older persons in Thailand: challenges and opportunities

Family support for older persons in Thailand: challenges and opportunities

Population ageing and the wellbeing of older persons are major emerging challenges for families, communities, and government in Thailand as in much of Asia. Traditionally, support and care for the elderly are met within the family. Adult children are important providers of material support as well as other forms of assistance to their older-age parents. The state and communities typically provide limited care services for the older population. Currently, Thailand is facing demographic and socioeconomic changes that pose significant challenges for the roles that family members, especially adult children, play in providing support for the elderly.

The Thai government has been giving very serious attention to population ageing issues. This was clearly indicated by the adoption of the Second National Plan for Older Persons covering 2002-2021, the prominence of aging issues in the 2012-16 National Economic and Social Development Plan, and a 2015 establishment of the Department of Older Persons with expanded authority to carry out programs to support elderly Thais. Importantly, the Old Age Allowance program was expanded in 2009 into a universal social pension for persons aged 60 and older who lacked other pension coverage. At the same time, there has been a significant increase in public awareness regarding population ageing in the last decade. Furthermore, efforts to strengthen community support for older persons have also
arisen in various parts of the country.
 
The key objective of this position paper is to empirically examine how family cares for older persons in various aspects (such as material and social support as well as personal care) and what challenges and opportunities are facing the family.

The position paper is organised into the following sections: 1) demographics of ageing; 2) availability of children and old-age living arrangements; 3) material support for older persons; 4) social support; 5) personal care support; 6) older persons’ contributions and; 7) discussion and conclusion; 8) policy recommendations.