The beginning of the project
In the first months of 2011, the Bishop of Khorat, Mons. Chusak Sirisut, visited our Camillian Home for the elderly in Chantaburi. He was inspired to ask the Camillians to build a similar home in his diocese of Khorat. So a piece of 18 Rai of land was set up by the diocesan council in the center of Khorat city for the new home for the elderly.
Father Paolo Cherdchai Lekcitlekaa, president of the St. Camillus Foundation of Thailand, created a team to manage the project and prepare a master plan. An agreement on the use of the land was made a few months thereafter. The contract was signed on the 11th of January 2012 at the bishop’s residence. Mons. Chusak reminded that this Camillian project must be a Church’s project which involves all catholics, because it must become a strong sign of the Merciful Love of Christ towards the elderly who are abandoned and in need. So Mons Chusak became the first promoter of the fundraising campaign for the project.Once completed, the home for the elderly will be managed by the finances of the elderly and their relatives - with donations given for the poor abandoned.
The population of elderly in Thailand is fast increasing. It would be a grave mistake to ignore the needs of the elderly. Recent statistics released by the Mental Health Department show that risk of suicide is no longer highest among young people, but is now highest among the elderly. Accordingly, the highest suicide rate is among the 70-74 age group, followed by those between 80-84 years old. No longer is suicide highest among the 20-29 age group. Depression has always been among the major causes of suicide for the elderly. Studies show that it is their utter hopelessness and loneliness - due to lack of support from relatives and access to welfare - that gives them little reason to live, particularly when they are suffering from illnesses. Some are afraid of being a burden to their families after retirement. The frenetic work culture and crowded living conditions in the city means that many families can’t afford to have their elderly live with them. As independent life becomes more difficult for the old folks, families have difficulty in finding properly run care centres for them. These suicide statistics should prompt policy-makers to start planning for better welfare support for the elderly. From 1995 to 2010, the number of elderly over 75 years old increased from 948.000 to 1.588.000, those over 60 years increased from 4.816.000 to 7.639.000. The numbers are projected to increase over the next 20 years. As Thai society becomes more urban, this ageing trend occurs with much weaker traditional support for the elderly. The low national birth rate also means that many of the elderly will have no one to take care of them in their golden years. With society rapidly changing, to maintain the quality of life for the elderly would be a great challenge for health care providers. Healthcare, outreach services and accommodation for the elderly in need must be improved.