Care plan for the UAE's ageing population

The UAE may soon unveil a 20-year health and home care plan for the nation's growing elderly population.

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A 20-year plan to care for the nation's growing elderly population is awaiting approval from the UAE federal government.

The proposal aims to meet the health, social, housing and financial needs of senior citizens, Mariam Al Roumi, the Minister of Social Affairs, told the Arabic language daily Al Ittihad last week.

In 2010, there were nearly 40,000 people over the age of 60. The Ministry of Health expects that number to increase by 20per cent by 2020. At the same time, more women are working outside of the home, meaning that the cultural paradigm of relatives caring for their elders is shifting.

Experts say that the UAE will need to expand the country's medical infrastructure and home-care options, plus attract more trained specialized geriatric doctors and nurses.

Last week, Ms Al Roumi also visited the majlis at Ajman's Elderly Nursing Home, a gathering place for senior citizens to socialise and share stories, "no invitation needed", said Laila Al Zarooni, manager of the home.

The nursing home serves six residents, plus about 55 people who come during the day for activities and entertainment. The facility also has a mobile unit with a doctor, nurse, social worker and psychologist, who visit about 150 elderly people in their homes.

Officials hope the majlis will enable nursing home residents and day visitors to mingle with others in the community.

Ms Al Roumi told Wam, the state news agency, that she expects the plan to be implemented in 2014, adding that it includes provisions for a savings fund for the elderly as well as senior citizen cards.