Aging Thailand takes toll on indebted households
By Pairat Temphairojana
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai civil servant Supapan Pullbangyung spends just under half of her salary on caring for her 75-year-old father, who suffers from diabetes and dementia.
Hers is one of many Thai families looking after elderly relatives at a cost that countrywide adds up to just under a third of household income. The number of families facing similar problems will balloon as the population ages at a rate among the fastest in Southeast Asia.
Thailand's working-age population is expected to shrink by 11 percent by 2040.
The rising cost of care is an additional burden to households struggling with record debt that is a drag on consumption and stunting the economy.
"I struggled for months and it took a while to adjust," said Supapan, who lives in Nonthaburi province, just north of the capital, Bangkok.
Looking after her father costs at least 15,000 baht ($430) a month, she said, a little less than half what she earns.
A culture of filial piety in which families feel obliged to care for their elderly means more often than not they absorb the expense of looking after parents and grandparents.
A poor savings culture has left many people ill-prepared to help themselves financially in old age, meaning they must rely on working family members. Continued...