KUCHING: A ‘Golden Card’ has been mooted as an identification for elderly citizens in the state by the Family and Women Council committee.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah, who chaired the meeting here yesterday, revealed that Sarawak would be the first state to implement such a system.

“Among the benefits of the card that was suggested is the ease to obtain treatment for the elderly at government and private hospitals and clinics.

“We will also try to obtain special discount rates, this will be done in collaboration with both Borneo Talk and Sarawak Pay,” said the minister.

Fatimah was of the view that the most common problem faced by the elderly was money.

“This becomes a pressing matter when they suddenly need to undergo treatment. We will also try to work with the Malaysia Medical Association to get lower rates for medical treatments, especially for patients aged 60 and above.”

Fatimah (seated, centre) with committee members.

Fatimah also pointed out that the support service for the elderly needed to be improved.

She revealed that one area that could be improved on was the home help services, a programme under the Welfare department.

“We want to expand the programme by introducing more volunteers that can be trained to provide services to the elderly at their residences.

“This is such as buying groceries, attending to their needs, housekeeping, giving them baths and massages, among others,” said Fatimah.

She also highlighted that the basic facilities such as toilets, ramps and curbs must be elderly friendly.

“We now find that a lot of towns in Sarawak are not classified as elderly-friendly or wheelchair-friendly.

“We have to do ample preparations from now on, especially in planned buildings, as the needs of the elderly must be taken into consideration.

“We must take the lead in including their needs and requirement in building planning so that it will be elderly-friendly and wheelchair-friendly,” added Fatimah.

“Otherwise, it will be difficult for them to move about causing them to be isolated and lonely.”

Also present were Women, Family and Childhood Development assistant minister Rosey Yunus, Tanjung Datu assemblywoman Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu, Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Ministry permanent secretary Dr Saadiah Samat and Women and Family Department state director Noriah Ahmad.