Interview with Yuan-Nian Hsu

Yuan-Nian Hsu
Director-General, health Bureau of Taichung City Government, Taiwan R.O.C.

What might be the biggest challenges concerning aging on the one hand and Hsuhealth and social care services on the other hand in Asian countries from your experience? What are some of the recurring challenges this country faces in this area?

The elderly people in East Asia are not so engaged. The main aim is to encourage our seniors to walk out of their houses and come to the communities, join various group activities. Because we know from the data that if you are alone, you are often more depressed and thus more at risk of suicide. In our program, elderly people are part of a group, which makes their lives more beautiful and valuable.

How have the elderly responded so far? Do you see any trends or changes in behavior, in engagement in society or any intergenerational changes? Or is it perhaps too early to notice any differences compared to let’s say ten years ago?

Ten years ago the elderly population was not as big as it is today. But the new demographic change is quite a challenge for us. How to meet the needs of these people? That is why the health department uses a lot of effort and arranges a variate of things to meet the needs of the elderly. We will focus on high risk groups, such as lonely elderly.

Based on the specific culture of Taiwan, how does the respect for the elderly affect policies at the city level concerning aging and social and health care?

This type of respect still exists, but it has changed over the last couple of years. For example my parents have looked after their parents. But this generation is very different, my parents have six or eight siblings and they could shift the work and the responsibilities. But nowadays for example I have only two siblings, so demographics change. Furthermore, people are tending to leave the countryside and move to the cities.

A lot of attention has been paid towards aging in urban areas, but what about rural areas? Are there any differences of being old in a city compared to being old in a village?

In the villages the family tie is much stronger and you have several elderly looking after each other. However, if you are a single person living alone in a rural area some difficulties regarding security issues or social aspects might occur. So we would usually ask for arrangements for these people in order to improve their living situation so they have somebody who looks after them.

Thank you very much.

This interview was conducted at the EHFG Conference 2016 by the Young Gasteiner Sorin Dan

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