Free healthcare for seniors, disabled in the works
by Burcu Çalık
Oct 06, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Burcu Çalık
Oct 06, 2015 12:00 am
The government is preparing to introduce a new system designed to deliver in-home medical care to senior and disabled citizens.
More than 9 million disabled and senior citizens will benefit from a set of services including free nursing services. Care workers will help disabled and senior citizens by both providing treatment and personal care. The Family and Social Policies Ministry will hire attendants for those citizens through private care centers which will receive funds from the ministry in turn.
Since 2007, families of disabled and senior citizens have received a monthly payment of TL 800 ($267) for care expenses and the new system provides even more benefits for these families. The ministry already launched pilot programs in several cities. Nursing home services, which will offer daytime care, will also be provided for senior and disabled citizens by the state. Families will be allowed to leave their next of kin suffering from disability or Alzheimer's, dementia and similar illnesses up to 30 days in nursing homes.
According to 2014 figures, Turkey has over 6.1 million people aged 65 and older, a number higher than the total population of several European countries.
Although they made up 8 percent of the overall population last year, projections made by the state-run statistical agency TurkStat show that the proportion of the elderly will increase to 10.2 percent by 2023 and rise further in the following decade. Figures suggest that the Turkish population will be categorized as "very old" by 2023. The United Nations describes countries with a senior citizen population between 8 percent and 10 percent as "old." The government has already expressed concern over the rapidly aging population. During his tenure as prime minister, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan led efforts to curb the trend, including through his much publicized advice to newlyweds to have at least three children.
Family and Social Policies Ministry officials had announced last year that nursing homes for senior citizens may be scrapped in the near future and replaced with improved home care. Turkey also plans to open private residences where a small number of senior citizens can stay together to make them feel at home, according to ministry officials.