The Cambodian Government plans a large increase in support for the elderly, announcing over hundreds of new support groups for its senior citizens.

In 2013, Cambodia has 1.1 million elderly people. This will grow to 1.8 million people over 60 years, according to the World Health Organisation.

Many in the older generation have lived through the violent Khmer Rouge regime. Most of them are women who lost husbands and children during the period.

Cambodia’s Minister of Social Affairs, Vong Soth, announced that 394 new support groups will be set up across the the country next year.

The groups called Older People’s Association are run by a non-profit HelpAge. They bring the elderly together in small communities and provide health training, work opportunities, social activities, and training to access their benefits.

“There are still elderly people who need care because they do not have a family,” said Kim Vuthy, director of one of the support groups in the capital Phnom Penh, quoted the Phnom Penh Post.

HelpAge has conducted research on the effectiveness of the elderly support groups, with results to be published in December. Preliminary results show that they help the elderly “stay more active”, according to Tum Vira, Executive Director of HelpAge Cambodia.

Cambodia’s ageing population will also increase the burden on its health systems. WHO has identified heart, infectious and parasitic diseases as the top diseases for the elderly.

Image by European Commission DG ECHO, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0