Taipei, May 27 (CNA) Taiwan's disabled population will reach 1.04 million in 2026, with the average number of years for long-term care expected to be seven years, said a Department of Health (DOH) official on Saturday.
The estimation is based on a DOH survey in 2010, said Teng Su-wen, director of the department's Bureau of Nursing and Health Services Development, speaking at a long-term care forum.
The 2010 survey of disabled citizens above the age of five who need long-term care, estimated that the disabled population would reach 668,933 in 2011, and increase to 778,905 in 2016, to 884,333 in 2021 and to 1.04 million by 2026, said Tung.
As Taiwan's aging society grows, demands for long-term care will also increase.
The year 2017 will be a key year in demographic transition as the baby boomer generation ages, with 14 percent of the population being over 65 years old, and by 2025 the country will become a super-aged society, Tung explained.
However, Taiwan Long-Term Care Professions Association President Wu Hsiao-chi said the DOH figures were an underestimation.
She said that by 2017 the population would age rapidly, and this could be seen through the aged dependency ratio, which calculates the number of people in the labor force caring for one senior citizen.
In 2010, the aged dependency ratio was 6.6 people in the labor force caring for one person over the age of 65, but by 2025 it will be 3.4 to one and by 2060 it will reach 1.2 to one. The declining trend indicates that after 2060 senior dependent citizens will exceed the working population, Wu said.
In addition, the World Health Organization estimates the potential demand for long-term care is about 7 to 9 years, Tung added.
According to Taiwan's average life expectancy and types of diseases, most people will need at least 7.3 years of long-term care, said Tung.
The average long-term care for men will be 6.4 years, while for women 8.2 years will be needed, she added.
To deal with the rising demand for long-term health care, the department launched a 10 year long-term health plan in 2008, and will be implementing long-term health insurance in 2016, said Tung.
In addition, the government will be expanding the long term health care services and network to 22 major zones from 2013-2016.
(By Lung Jui-yun and C.J. Lin)