BUSAN, Jan. 29 (Korea Bizwire) – Plans for a retirement commune in Busan have been unveiled amid reports a growing number of seniors are suffering from loneliness.
The Busan Metropolitan Government announced on Sunday it is spending 100 million won on a community project to tackle poverty and loneliness for single seniors.
Busan’s new project draws inspiration from ‘Loppukiri’, a Finnish retirement community on the outskirts of Helsinki accommodating 58 households, where residents design the living space, and make meals, clean, and set rules together.
Over 100 applicants will be selected to join and live in the retirement commune as an ‘alternative family’, with a number of government-backed events and activities run on a regular basis, including food sharing, birthday parties, club activities and health management.
In collaboration with companies and charitable organizations, help will be provided for the members to find work, allowing the community to become self-sufficient.
The Busan government hopes to extend the service after a trial period between March and the end of this year.
Latest figures show fewer than one in four seniors in the city make use of recreational and welfare facilities, with a significant number of them facing poverty and loneliness.
“Self-support communes are different to senior care centers in that members live together and do things on their own as a family. We are hoping to tackle some of the hardships facing the elderly by creating social networks centered on local communities,” one Busan government official said.
Studies have shown interacting with friends is crucial in fighting loneliness among seniors.
According to data from the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2016, suicidal thoughts among seniors dropped significantly for those who developed new relationships through friend-making schemes at community centers.
The senior population in South Korea reached 14 percent last year with around one in five seniors living alone, according to Statistics Korea.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)