Lack of health services hit the elderly

December 27, 2021 | 08:30
Despite possessing a promising market with about 20 million potential customers in the near future, health and wellness services specifically for elderly people in Vietnam have not developed in line, or met their increasingly diverse needs.
Lack of health services hit the elderly
The Vietnamese population is ageing, and the demand for healthcare services is rising with it. Photo: Shutterstock

As the owner of a tourist complex attracting visitors in Yen Bai province, including a 4-star resort and adventure park in Van Chan district, Dao Xuan Thinh, director of Thinh Dat Green Tourism Development JSC is still not satisfied. Earlier this year, he deployed a new project of resort and wellness services exclusively for the elderly in Boon village, which is famous for its mineral-rich hot water stream and is known as an effective means in the treatment of diseases.

Thinh said the reason that motivated him to decide to implement Nghia Lo Resort came from the desire to build the most advanced wellness service area for the elderly in the northern mountains, which is extremely attractive thanks to green products and wellness tourism.

“There are not many products and services for the elderly at present, so this market still has a lot to exploit. We have products to meet the resort needs of families, and the entertainment needs of the young. A product specifically for elderly customers not only makes our ecosystem more complete but also creates a new colour for Yen Bai tourism, contributing to promoting the province’s economic development,” Thinh said.

In fact, proportional to the rapid ageing of the population, the number of elderly people, especially the elderly living alone, is increasing. The number of elderly in the country is predicted to surpass the number of children by 2039. Of the 11 million people age 60 and older today, nearly two million are 80 years old, and more than three million of them are living alone or with an elderly spouse, according to data from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

It is forecasted that by 2034, an elderly person will need three people of working age to support them, and this number will decrease to two people by 2049.

The demand for intensive healthcare and social support services for the whole family and in social protection centres and elderly care facilities is also increasing. However, only 49 of the country’s 63 localities currently have a geriatric hospital or separate medical examination department for the elderly with nearly 2,000 medical staff trained in gerontology. A survey by Savills Vietnam also shows that only 32 localities have nursing homes for elderly care.

Vo Tan Thanh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that as a result, services for the elderly in Vietnam is a high-potential and valuable market with an annual growth rate of up to 7 per cent in 2020-2027. In the Asia-Pacific region, this rate is expected to increase to 14.6 per cent from 2018 to 2022 with a total value of up to $2 trillion.

“The pandemic has also changed attitudes about elderly care that have long existed in Vietnamese culture. Services specifically for the elderly are getting more and more attention, and at the same time, the demand for this service segment is on the rise,” said Thanh.

However, with increasing age, the financial dependence of the elderly on their children and relatives increases, Thanh added. “The challenge for developing the market for the elderly is how the providers must develop services that are convincing enough for both the elderly and their children to pay for these services.”

Dang Trong Ngon, director of Anspace Nursing Home, shared that although the market has potential, it also faces many challenges in terms of infrastructure and policies to encourage the participation of businesses, limitations in finance, human and technological resources, and the absence of an effective service model that is suitable for Vietnamese culture, as well as a communication strategy to change the consumption habits of the elderly.

“The income of many families is increasing, leading to a marked rise in demand for healthcare services. I see this as a field that will have high growth, and also a service segment with great humanitarian significance,” Ngon said.

By Hoang Oanh

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