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Taichung NGO takes inclusive approach to promoting well-being for seniors    [2021/03/02]
Hondao Senior Citizen’s Welfare Foundation, headquartered in central Taiwan’s Taichung City, helps senior citizens fulfill a wide variety of ambitions such as performing at Taipei Arena.

Hondao Senior Citizen’s Welfare Foundation is setting the benchmark for innovation and professionalism in welfare services for retired individuals through initiatives bolstering engagement in the broader community.

Since 1995, the nongovernmental organization headquartered in central Taiwan’s Taichung City has dedicated itself to meeting the physical and mental health needs of older adults while boosting intergenerational inclusivity. Its work is made possible by private donations and funding from the central and local governments.

The services of HSCWF and other NGOs are becoming increasingly important as Taiwan officially became an aged society in 2018, with more than 14 percent of the population aged 65 or over. This is expected to grow to more than one in five by 2025, when the country is projected to become a super-aged society according to the Cabinet-level National Development Council.

Employees at Taichung-based Bulao Eatery No. 125 are all smiles alongside signs promoting the restaurant, which currently employs 15 people with an average age of 63. (Staff photo/Chen Mei-ling)

To address various challenges posed by population aging, the organization strives to promote active aging and healthy longevity via community involvement, said Liu Chia-ying, director of the General Administration Division at HSCWF.

To this end, the NGO established Bulao Eatery No. 125 in Taichung in 2016 in partnership with the city government’s Social Affairs Bureau. Providing work opportunities to older adults, the eatery currently employs 15 people with an average age of 63.

“Many older individuals are willing and able to work. The jobs we offer provide them with a stable income and also allow them to socialize and meet new people,” Liu said. Studies have also found having a job can lead to improved health outcomes among the elderly, she added.

67-year-old Lin Shu-chen can attest to these findings. After decades spent caring for her family, she started a new chapter in June last year—her very first job, a part-time role at Bulao Eatery.

“I feel happy, healthy and energetic,” she said. “Working has given me a chance to learn a lot of new skills from my colleagues about things like mobile payments and customer service.”

An HSCWF staffer assists an elderly shopper with her groceries. (Courtesy of HSCWF)

HSCWF also seeks to promote care in the community via a broad network of professional caregivers, social workers and volunteers. Many recipients of its services are older adults living alone, with the foundation providing help with housework, shopping and hospital visits while offering companionship and hot meals.

The foundation currently has about 590 employees and 2,800 volunteers serving 8,300 elderly individuals across Taiwan. Among the organization’s best-known campaigns is the Dreams Never Get Old program, which helps older adults realize their ambitions.

Past participants include a group of octogenarians who completed a 13-day, 1,178-kilometer motorcycle tour around Taiwan in 2007. Their story was later made into a documentary titled “Go Grandriders” in 2012.

“Age shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your dreams,” Liu said. “When people grow old, they can still accomplish things, and we should be there to support them in doing so.”


Source: Taiwan Today (https://taiwantoday.tw/index.php)
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