Senior citizens moot Singapore scheme to foster family bonding

Alarming spurt in cases of abuse by immediate families

March 12, 2018 12:50 am | Updated 12:50 am IST - VIJAYAWADA

Senior citizens say they will urge Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to replicate the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG), implemented by the Singapore government to promote family bonding.

Disturbed by an alarming spurt in cases of abuse of senior citizens mostly by their immediate family, members of the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Association want the government to bring in laws that could bring children closer to their aged parents. Breakdown of the traditional joint family system is seen as one of the causes of the miseries of old persons abandoned in their twilight years.

Given Mr. Naidu’s penchant for best practices, the association wants him to emulate programmes like the PHG designed to promote mutual care and affection between aged parents and their grown-up children.

Under this scheme, families in Singapore looking to buy a flat to live with or near their parents or children, get an additional S$30,000 to offset costs. The grant is S$30,000 for those living with their parents/child and S$20,000 for those living within 4 km radius of the family.

“This is aimed at getting extended families to live near each other for mutual support,” says Mothukuri Venkateswara Rao, associate president of the Andhra Pradesh Senior Citizens’ Samakhya.

In nuclear families, young children are deprived of the love and affection of their grandparents while the latter also miss the care and support needed at that age, he says.

“A large population of senior citizens in the State is deprived and unhappy as they are physically, mentally and financially abused by family members in most cases. Mere brick-and-mortar structures of international standards will not make the State happy. To achieve it, the government should focus on promoting values,” says Vemuru Babu Rao, State secretary of the Samkhya and vice-president of the Krishna District Senior Citizens’ Welfare Association.

The neglected section

The association’s demand for a separate department or a Commissionerate for welfare of senior citizens has not been met so far. The Department for Women, Children, Disabled and Senior Citizens seldom finds time to address their issues, he points out, adding that the transgenders’ community has also been added now.

Referring to the Budget presented by the overnment recently, he said there was no mention of senior citizens who comprise 12% of the population.

Mr. Rao says the Chief Minister should implement Singapore’s PHG-like schemes as it would encourage people to opt for it primarily because it involves enticement.

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