Thailand’s ageing society is growing rapidly, with a quarter of Thais who are 60 years and older forecasted to account for one-third of the population by 2040. Despite expectations that the country would see a rapid escalation of assisted living and nursing homes being developed, COVID-19 became a game-changer.
While traditionally many Thais have lived and grown up in multigenerational homes with a larger family group, urbanization over the past decade eroded that trend. In that timeframe, the exodus from family compounds to condominiums and single-family homes took centre stage. The greying of a wider global population also saw many expatriates move to Thailand, with government incentives such as the liberalization of retirement visas and the Thailand Elite long-stay program.
Then came the global pandemic and the lifestyle changes for Thais and expats do an about-face and return to multigenerational homes. For many older people at the end of their careers, the downturn created an exodus for early retirement. Many children with ageing parents and other family members reconnected over the expansive two years of the disruptive crisis, and taking care of the expanded family has become increasingly important.
One of the key byproducts of COVID has been the prioritisation of healthcare and a safe and secure environment for everyone, especially the elderly. With the shift back to more traditional family homes, often there are many different ages in the household. For working parents with kids who often have a grandparent or ageing relatives, providing some level of household care is necessary. That said, with rising labour costs, and urban flight by many domestic helpers back to their home provinces during COVID, the need for ‘on demand’ care has soared.
One offering that is addressing these needs is Thailand’s online SAIJAI homecare marketplace which has ‘on demand’ services for aged or senior care. With a push upwards of work from home for many, having these services when and as needed fills a gap in a busy schedule.
SAIJAI’s caregivers have experience ranging from cleaning, companionship, and mobility and there are even those who have more specific expertise. Other types of assistance can be accompanying the aged to medical appointments at Bumrungrad Hospital, taking a walk in Lumpini Park, or shopping at CentralWorld.
As we emerge from the pandemic, aged care for Thais and expatriates is evolving and one key element remains a sense of community, especially for those who have been restricted to their homes. An emerging range of online resources includes YoungHappy – The Senior Happiness Community, HelpAge, and SAIJAI elderly care in Bangkok, Phuket and soon to be available throughout the country.