A Tongan NGO says a growing number of elderly are struggling to care for themselves
A Tongan NGO says a growing number of elderly are struggling to take care of themselves.
A family group supporting the elderly in Tonga says there is a growing number of senior citizens who are struggling to take care of themselves and are seeking help.
The non-government organisation, Ma'a Fafine Moe Famili Centre, runs the Tonga Social Services Pilot which was launched in July last year, and provides home care visits to the elderly who suffer from non-communicable disease or issues with mobility.
A case manager, Melenaita Blake, told Beverley Tse a number of clients struggle to clean their homes or have outdoor toilets and find it physically hard to get to them.
MELENAITA BLAKE: It all started with a survey that the government conducted here in Tonga and as a result they found this service was needed. As a pilot, they decide to start working for the Eastern and Western districts, together with one of the islands - Ha'apai Island. A survey showed that these are the areas with the majority of elderlies that needed our services. So I think they did it a proposal to ADB and Japan Fund For Poverty Reduction and they granted the government the funds to run that pilot and Ma'a Fafine Moe Famili was selected as the hosting organisation for that pilot.
BEVERLEY TSE: Now, this project calls for special attention for the elderly. Just how bad is the condition of elderly people?
MB: Our services for the eligibility of the elderlies we're working for consisted of three main areas - the elderly over the age of 60 have different health conditions and some that are being neglected. Right now we're receiving more and more referrals coming in. Our work is revealing that more elderlies here in Tonga need the service due to different conditions.
BT: What are some of the cases of neglect, or what are the worst cases you've seen?
MB: One of the worst cases we're handling is the case of a 68 year old. And our client has diabetes and she's obese and one leg is amputated. She lives with her husband of 70. He's the only one looking after her. They have children, but living overseas.
BT: How many elderly in Tonga are suffering or needing your assistance?
MB: Right now we're having 164 clients with different conditions and more and more referrals being reviewed in the office. I consider it quite a lot, because us kids are supposed to look after our elderly, but right now we see that some of that is not being practiced now.
BT: Why not?
MB: Some children, they live overseas. And I think most of the elderlies, the main thing is they don't want to go and live with their children overseas.
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