Friday, 23 March 2012

Sad Reality of HK's Elderly

A Simple Life with Deanie Ip and Andy Lau
A movie that's showing in the theatres in Hong Kong is called A Simple Life directed by Ann Hui. It's a story about the relationship between a young master from a wealthy family and the servant (Deanie Ip) who served them.

She has worked for the family for 60 years, raising the young children until they grow up, get married and emigrate. Only Roger (Andy Lau) is left and she continues to look after him.

But one day she has a stroke and he comes back from a business trip to find her unconscious. When she recovers she decides not to be a burden and asks him to help her find an old folks home.

After she settles in, he realizes how much she has been a part of his life -- even though she is not a blood relation -- and he resolves to do whatever he can to make her last days memorable.

It is a good story and one we should all watch because there are reports a growing number of elderly people in Hong Kong are terribly mistreated.

Against Elderly Abuse says three were abandoned by relatives in Hong Kong last year and abuse cases increased 15 percent to 368. But the group claims this is just "the tip of the iceberg."

According to statistics from the Social Welfare Department, this is the first time since 2005 that more than one case of abandonment has been reported in a year.

The advocacy group says many cases go unreported "because in Chinese culture, elderly people are reluctant to reveal the disgraceful affairs of their families," said Roy Lam Man-chiu, Against Eldery Abuse's assistant executive director.

More elderly people are being targeted for cash by their children even after they received their HK$6,000 government handout.

Lam said some children sweet talked their parents into giving them the money or even assaulted them if they refused.

"Last Christmas, an elderly woman complained that her son, who had failed to get money from her, removed her quilt and turned on a fan at high speed when she was sleeping," he said. "He was cold-blooded."

More than 70 percent of last year's cases, 160 men and 208 women, involved physical abuse, while 12 percent were related to money. Others were psychological abuse, neglect and even sexual abuse.

Two-thirds of the abusers were spouses, 10.9 percent involved children, and 11.4 percent were domestic helpers. Other abusers included grandchildren, other relatives and neighbours.

One high-profile case involved Tse Kam-wo, who was left by his son in Guangzhou in 2009 where he was taken to undergo cataract surgery. Tse, who was 75 at the time, had his travel documents and HK$5,000 taken from him, and on top of that, he broke both his legs in a fall as he tried to look for his son.

Eventually he got help to return to Hong Kong and later even forgave his son.

It is shocking to hear these cases in this city, and in the context of Chinese culture where elders are supposed to be respected and cared for.

Have we really become this heartless?

If we do not care about our loved ones, how can we care for society?

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