PETALING JAYA: Bus stops, hospitals or in their homes – these are among the places where families have resorted to abandoning their elderly parents.
Some of the elderly who were loitering on the streets and asking for donations were in weak condition when they were rescued by the Social Welfare Department.
In a statement to The Star through the Older Persons Division, the department said that in the last five years, about 840 elderly people checked into welfare homes when their families abandoned them.
Among the reasons include family and medical issues.
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Some family members didn’t have enough income to support their parents and there were also parents who always argued with their children when they lived together, it said.
In 2022, there were more than 1,400 senior citizens living in the department’s welfare homes, including the Rumah Seri Kenangan and Rumah Ehsan.
A person could enter the welfare homes voluntarily or through a court order under Section 3 (4) of the Destitute Persons Act 1977.
However, the department said the occupant could only leave the welfare home if they obtained suitable employment to support themself, or if they had someone who was willing and able to care for and support them properly.
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“If they are abandoned and not placed with welfare homes, they will face more issues in terms of health and care,” it said.
In July 2022, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry said some 2,144 senior citizens were abandoned at hospitals nationwide from 2018 till last June.
“Social workers in hospitals made efforts to track down relatives. If none could be located, the senior citizens would be placed in government or private welfare institutions,” the ministry said in a written reply dated July 20.
The ministry added that some of those who were abandoned had relatives on file, such as spouses, children or siblings.
“However, some relatives who were successfully traced refused to step forward to care for the senior citizens involved.
“Among the reasons for refusing to care for the elderly were family problems. Some even denied knowing the senior citizen involved,” it stated.