KUALA LUMPUR - Change in society's values is among reasons why children abandon their parents today.
National Population and Family Development Board director-general Datuk Dr Aminah Abdul Rahman said some assumed that it was the Government's responsibility to care for their elderly parents. "That is a worrying trend," she said.
"They may have had traumatic childhoods and want to now pay back' their parents," said Dr Aminah. "Such deep-rooted emotions result in children abandoning their parents, especially when the time comes for the offsprings to care for their older folk."
On the other hand, family therapist Lisa Sum said it was important for society to understand the needs of the youngsters, as times had changed.
"Today's young need to work to make ends meet," she said. "So, some send their old parents to homes, and their children to nurseries, to cope with the rat race."
Sum said young families also faced financial constraints when it came to taking care of their elderly parents.
"But there are also some who simply do not want to look after the old," she added.
Sum said problems also arose when the young could not understand the changes in their parents' behaviours caused by insecurity and loss of memory.
She urged these young people to seek out counsellors and therapists who could offer help and advice.
"Sometimes the young families need their space and privacy," Sum said.
She suggested that "elderly-friendly" houses be built, allowing the older folk to stay close to their children without both parties giving up their privacy.
The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has set up several activity centres under its Social Welfare Department to encourage children to continue caring for their parents.
The centres, operated by NGOs, include programmes such as aerobics, health talks, religious classes and singing sessions.
The volunteers also provide help services to the elderly such as cleaning the house and taking the senior citizens to clinics.