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Creating a friendly city for senior citizens

Words by Lin Yi-hui Translated by Anna Yang
Photographers: Dong Yi; Chen Cheng-guo; Shi Chun-tai
Photos provided by Taichung City Taiping District Office

As Taiwan’s population continues to age, senior citizens currently make up 14.05% of the nation’s people. With one out of every seven people a senior, it has become critical to strengthen social benefits and protection for this segment of society. According to Asia University College of Humanities and Social Sciences vice-dean, Prof. Huang Song-lin, just as society shouldn’t allow children and teenagers to lose out during the early, key moments in their lives, it is also important that the elderly should not lose out during their later years. “We learned to grow and become successful when we were young, but we never learned to become old,” notes Huang. Clearly, becoming a senior citizen is a task to prepare for, and anyone should be able to enjoy over 20 years of healthy life after retirement, thanks to well-developed medical technology.

Healthy lives for the elderly is a win-win situation
Although anyone 65 and older is considered “elderly”, many senior citizens are in excellent shape physically and mentally. If seniors can make proper health-maintenance preparations for their aging years, they may also prevent dementia and enjoy improved later lives, creating a win-win situation.
To advocate elderly social participation, Taichung City Government is proactively developing community care locations, targeting a goal of 400 locations before the end of 2019. In these venues, elderly people are encouraged to walk outdoors, participate in all sorts of events and dine together. When seniors are asked why they join these events, their replies include: “the young people are not around, so chatting with others is fun”; “we can learn to sing and dance, and I always anticipate this weekly event”; “it’s not convenient to cook for myself, so I enjoy dining with others”; “the variety of food provided by the volunteers is tasty!” Such feedback clearly shows that these senior citizens appreciate the existence of these welfare programs and events.

Education boosts the learning potential of senior citizens
Taichung City Government has created a Senior Citizen Adult Education Program that provides an abundance of classes for retired residents. To date, 783 classes held in different communities allow senior citizens to enjoy learning and improvement without traveling far from their homes. Other city government sessions for seniors include healthy dance movements, singing, board games, and health and benefits consulting services in 29 administrative districts. All elderly residents are welcomed to stop by and enjoy free drinks at these events.

Taichung leads in many areas of senior care
When senior citizens lose their mobility, their health situation usually quickly declines with illness and dementia. Taichung City Government Health Bureau Director Tseng Tzu-chan notes that his bureau promotes the concept of “Taichung City, a senior-friendly city” by offering many senior-related programs as a template for other Taichung government bureaus to build and achieve on.
As senior citizens are the largest group of people reliant on medical care, Taichung City Government promotes several financial subsidies for all elderly residents so that they do not hesitate to receive medical treatment, regardless of financial difficulties. Besides the senior citizen health insurance subsidy resumed this July, elderly residents may use a “senior citizen card” in any city government-contracted clinic and receive a NT$50 subsidy. The city government also provides a senior dental care program for those in need. This extremely beneficial subsidy is offered to elderly applicants with fewer than 10 teeth or five sets of top and bottom teeth.

An aging society heralds safe senior-citizen welfare
The average age of Taichung’s population is 38, making it the youngest city among Taiwan’s six special municipalities. Prof. Huang believes that it is the city government’s duty to create a safe aging society ahead of time, noting, “It’s recommended that lessons about aging preparations be provided to retiring senior citizens around the age of 55 to 65, so that they can go ahead and plan for retired life.” He also affirmed that Taichung City’s senior citizen services are among the best way for elderly residents to enjoy continuous learning.
In addition, efforts are needed to prevent ignorance about the plight of solitary or abused elderly residents. According to Huang, “Taichung City Government leads with the ‘solitary senior organization policy’ and so far there are more than a hundred participating volunteers caring and solving problems for solitary elderly residents.” Taichung City continues to work hard to create a senior-friendly environment and provide care and information for maintaining the health of its older residents.

Main Taichung City senior citizen subsidies

Health insurance subsidy
Maximum NT$749 subsidy for regular health insurance fees (based on 6th NHI
category). Subsidy applies for any fees up to NT$749.
Qualifying recipients:
-Legal Taichung resident for over 1 year, age 65 and older (55 and older for Aborigine residents).
-Individual income tax over the past year that falling below the standard or a
tax rate of less than 5%.

Dental subsidy
Subsidy provided to any senior citizen with a severe missing-teeth condition (less
than 5 sets of top and bottom teeth or less than 10 teeth total).
Qualifying recipients:
-Legal Taichung resident for over 1 year, age 65 and older
-Total NT$40,000 subsidy provided for dentures.
-NT$20,000 for upper or bottom teeth.

Influenza vaccines
Based on Taichung City Government procurement budget; senior citizen
pneumococcal vaccine shots provided at public expense.
Qualifying recipients:
-Legal Taichung resident for over 1 year between ages of 60 and 74 (ages 55-74
for Aborigines) who has never received a pneumococcal vaccine shot (PPV23) at public expense.

Senior Citizen Card
Medical Subsidy
Seniors receive a NT$50 discount on visits to over 300 clinics/hospitals
cooperating with Taichung City Government.
Sports Subsidy
Applies to any civic sports center facilities
Public Transportation
Free public and intercity buses rides; NT$50 discount per taxi ride.
Qualifying recipients:
-Legal Taichung resident for over 1 year, age 65 and older (55 and older for
Aborigine residents), with certified physical/mental disability

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