FIJI BRACES FOR ELDERLY POPULATION BOOM

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Government to invest in nursing home, care workers

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 26, 2011) – Fiji is bracing itself for a boom in its elderly population after a report showed the number of elderly Fijians would increase astronomically in less than 40 years.

The United Population Fund revealed Fiji's elderly population was growing by 3,000 persons a year, with the number of people 80 years and over expected to increase from 5,000 last year to 28,500 by 2050.

To address the issue, the Interim Government launched a National Policy on Ageing for 2011 to 2015 in Suva before Christmas.

"The health needs of these older citizens will have to be considered," Permanent Secretary for Social Welfare and Chair of the Inter-Agency Working Committee on Elderly, Govind Sami told Pacific Beat.

A government Council of Older Persons will be established along with the policy, Mr Sami said, to address concerns arising in the growing demographic:

"The Council is beginning to plan how to provide a more incluse environment that instils dignity and respect for human rights and basic needs through the empowerment of older persons."

He said the government would invest in aged care schemes like nursing homes, care worker training programs and promotions of healthy living.

The government had also poured $FJD3.6 million into a food voucher program, where anyone over 70-years-old would receive $30 per month to promote independence and lighten the burden of families looking after their ageing relatives.

Mr Govind Sami said another concern was Fiji's 'sandwich generation' - where and elderly person is stuck in between looking after his or her grandchildren and parents.

"There is a lot of pressure on these people and we need to provide some support to these elderly people in these sandwich generations," he said.

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