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Chiayi City, Taipei, Hualien County most friendly to seniors: survey

2018/10/30 19:59:20

Taipei, Oct. 30 (CNA) Chiayi City in southern Taiwan outshone 21 other cities and counties to be crowned the most friendly city to seniors in Taiwan, according to an evaluation of living environments for senior citizens published on Tuesday.

Taipei City and Hualien County were ranked second and third most friendly to those aged 65 and older, while Yunlin County, Miaoli County and Taichung took the three bottom places among 17 assessed cities and counties in the 2018 Index of City and County Development for Seniors compiled by the Taiwan Active Aging Association (AAA).

Tainan City, Hsinchu County, the outlying counties of Kinmen and Penghu, as well as the islands of Matsu were not covered in the evaluation because of insufficient government data, the organization said.

AAA explained Chiayi City secured the top ranking with its "remarkable" health care and social services for the elderly, while Taipei won high scores for its convenient public transport and Hualien County scored high with its abundant green public spaces and sports facilities.

Chiayi City has Taiwan's highest per capita number of long-term care facilities and relatively low housing prices that reduce the cost of living in the city for seniors compared with most other cities and counties in the country, said AAA chief executive officer Chang Mei-hui (張美慧).

AAA, founded by former Health Minister Yang Chih-liang (楊志良) in 2015, began to evaluate city and county development with reference to senior citizens last year based on government data, on-site interviews with seniors groups, and a telephone interview survey with randomly-selected senior citizens around the country.

Evaluations were undertaken in eight major categories, including public space, community health care services, information circulation, volunteer services, respect for seniors, social participation, housing safety, and public transportation.

Each area has several sub-indexes for which marks are given based on survey results and government data before experts in senior citizen related policy determined the relative weight of the indexes, according to AAA.

Chang said Yunlin County, Miaoli County and Taichung received the lowest scores because of insufficient access-free and safe public space, as well as a shortage of sports facilities and parks, she added.

A public health expert who from 2009-2011 headed the Department of Health, which was upgraded to the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2013, Yang observed that the evaluation results demonstrate "abundant resources are not a necessary condition for cities to be friendly to seniors."

He was referring to the larger resources available to special municipalities and provincial cities than counties and county-level cities.

AAA initiated its evaluation of living environments related to senior citizens in 2017 in an effort to establish a city/county level index system to determine the friendliness of a city to seniors.

It was also hoped that such an index would serve as a reference for government promotion of seniors-related policies, according to the organization.

Ministry of the Interior data published in April showed that Taiwan's senior citizens currently account for 14 percent of the total population, officially making the country an "aged society."

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Elizabeth Hsu)