Fall in cases lodged over maintenance of parents

Mr Lim Soo Bin and his wife Gan Hui Pee live alone and have no family support after their son died seven years ago. They rely on Touch Community Services to buy groceries, provide meals and take them to the doctor.
Mr Lim Soo Bin and his wife Gan Hui Pee live alone and have no family support after their son died seven years ago. They rely on Touch Community Services to buy groceries, provide meals and take them to the doctor.PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The number of elderly people in Singapore may be rising, but the number forced to seek state intervention to obtain financial support from their children is down.

There were 213 cases lodged with the Commissioner for the Maintenance of Parents last year, a fall from 257 in 2013 and 303 in 2012.

The number of people aged above 65 now makes up 11.2 per cent of the population.

The Maintenance of Parents Act was passed in 1995 so the state can intervene and possibly order children to provide financial maintenance when elderly Singaporeans cannot support themselves but their children are not helping.

Grown-up children still remain a key source of physical, emotional and financial support for the elderly, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said in its latest report on Ageing Families in Singapore released yesterday.

The report is based on data from various sources and draws on findings such as those in a 2013 HDB Sample Household Survey, which found that 75 per cent of younger married residents provide regular financial support to their parents.

Likewise, 78 per cent of elderly residents with children reported receiving such financial support. On average, an elderly parent received $535 a month from his children in 2013. At least 77 per cent of elderly residents also said they were able to rely on their children for emotional and physical support, such as buying groceries, transportation and housework.

For elderly residents unable to rely on families for such help, the state has developed home care services, providing food, nursing, therapy, transport and cleaning.

A new home care centre managed by Touch Community Services was officially opened yesterday in Ang Mo Kio, offering home care services to an additional 270 elderly people. "We are on track to meeting our target to be able to serve 10,000 seniors by 2020," said Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health, at the opening.

The centre serves 60 clients, including Mr Lim Soo Bin, 80, who has Parkinson's disease and dementia, and his wife Gan Hui Pee, 76, who had a stroke last year.

The couple live alone and have no family support after their son died seven years ago. They rely on Touch Community Services to buy groceries, provide meals and take them to the doctor.

"I'm very happy when they come to visit... They spend their time with us," said Madam Gan. "Otherwise, we would have to employ a maid and we cannot afford that."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'Fall in cases lodged over maintenance of parents'. Print Edition | Subscribe