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Editorial: Who cares for our old?

Japan is looking at 60,000 caregivers and when at least P60,000-80,000 salary is being dangled, it’s safe to assume that this will result in a brain drain. Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Bernard Olalia said that different agencies have already been directed to process the visa documents starting on April 1.

The Population Commission (Popcom) said that the number of Filipinos over 60 years old will breach the 8 million mark by end 2018. This represents about eight percent of the total population in the country.

How is this relevant?

The Popcom said that a country is considered aging if 7% of the population is over 65 years old. In that sense, the Philippines is on its way there since about 5 million of the total senior citizens in the country are aged 65 or older.

For now, however, this is not yet a problem for the country. In fact, among its advantages in topping the 2018 Best Counties Report by the US News & World Report was its young population. But if we continue to send our caregivers to other countries to care for their old without building a safety net, what happens then?

We take for granted in the country that somebody will always look after our grandparents, parents, and elderly relatives. It’s ingrained in our culture to give back. This is the reason for the dearth of nursing homes in the country. There’s also the question of cost as private facilities can run thousands.

The rising number of women who choose to have a career (by default, women bore the responsibility of caring for the old), as well as senior citizens with special needs like dementia, will become a problem later on. They need special care like what trained caregivers can provide. And more and more people are willing to pay the cost of that care.

At the rate our caregivers are leaving, however, there’s not much left for our aging population.

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