|By Melissa Pang|
He said at a recent meeting with some managers from nursing homes, he was told that some elderly folks had been abandoned by their families. -- ST PHOTO
CARING for elderly parents may not be an easy task but it is a responsibility Singaporeans must not shirk, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday night.
Speaking in Mandarin at the National Day Rally at the University Cultural Centre Speech to a gathering of over 1,600, PM Lee said: 'As Asians, we deeply value fillial piety. Family love and warmth cannot be replaced by nursing homes or hospitals.'
He said at a recent meeting with some managers from nursing homes, he was told that some elderly folks had been abandoned by their families.
These elderly parents were sent to the nursing homes by their children, who would then disappear, some even going to the extent of changing their address.
When contacted, they said they would not care even if the homes turf out their parents.
To deal with this problem, PM Lee said the Government will explore how best to use the Maintenance of Parents Act, and other ways, such as building more community hospitals, to alleviate the burden of those with sick elderly parents.
Mr Lee also devoted a substantive part of his address in Mandarin on the stresses to the healthcare system brought about by an ageing population.
Turning to healthcare issues, he touched on the rising obesity rates in Singapore.
'Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is every man's responsibility. It is the best way to avoid diseases and cut back on medical expenses,' he said.
He noted that in China, rising obesity has led to a boom in weight loss businesses. Giving an example, he said one firm in Shanghai is charging customers by the amount of weight they lose.
'Here, the annual healthy lifestyle campaign helps everyone lose weight for free,' he said, drawing laughter from the audience.
Despite the national healthy lifestyle programme, the number of obese Singaporeans is also gradually rising, said Mr Lee.
'We must work harder to prevent obesity...or there will be more illnesses, increasing the burden to society and ourselves,' he added.
Mr Lee also addressed the economic outlook for Singapore and the need to maintain racial and religious harmony in his speech.
He will expand on these issues in English at 8pm.