EFE

By Rungroj Yongrit

Bangkok

At the Ban Bang Khae care home in Bangkok, a group of older women — many of them wheelchair users — are guided through their morning stretching exercises by caregivers.

The city-run nursing home provides care for elderly, impoverished women who don’t have a home to call their own, and no family members who are able to take care of them.

“I don't have children, my husband died and I used to work as a tailor. I don't have any relatives so I have to live here,” says Aom, whose real name was withheld by the center for privacy reasons.

Another, who is known as Grandmother Lek says: “I have children but I understand they have to work and have no time to take care of me. So they leave me here. I understand.

“Don't leave your mother. Please take care of her very well,” she adds.

AGING SOCIETY

Thailand has developed rapidly over the past four decades, growing into an upper-middle income country in a single generation as millions of people were lifted out of poverty.

But that massive development and increased wealth — Thailand’s economy grew 7.5% annually between 1960 and 1996, according to the World Bank — has also resulted in a rapidly aging population.

In 2016, 11% of the Thai population — approximately 7.5 million people — were 65 years or older, more than double the rate in 1995. By 2040, projections predict that 17 million Thais — more than a quarter of the population — will be over the age of 65.

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