KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — Sending one’s parents to a residential care facility should be the last resort as the government spends RM900 million a year on providing aid and care to the elderly, said the deputy women, family and community development minister.

Datuk Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff also said this amount covered seniors who were living in 15 institutions managed by the Welfare Department, as reported by Berita Harian.

“Of that amount, almost RM40 million is channelled to institutions under the Welfare Department to cover the managing cost of said group.

“For every person in an elderly care facility under the Welfare Department, the government spends RM1,400 per month on food, clothing, medicine and other necessary items.

“Meanwhile, about RM70 million a month or RM840 million a year is allocated to 138,000 elderly citizens for various forms of aid,” she was quoted as saying.

Apart from the operating cost, Siti Zailah said the increase in the allocation was due to the cost of care and provision of food and daily necessities, including disposable diapers, which also increased.

She said the money used by the government for elderly care could be reduced if adult children realised the importance of taking care of their parents, which is their responsibility.

“Therefore, sending parents to care homes should be the last resort and not used as a premature measure to solve the issue of caring for the elderly in one’s family.

“Based on this, we have introduced intervention measures, whereby those who want to send their parents to an elderly care facility must undergo a referral process with case officers and counsellors,” she said.