SEOUL, March 21 (Korea Bizwire) — The Seoul Metropolitan Government will launch a joint monitoring system to encourage local communities to help lonely people living alone.
City officials announced a number of comprehensive protective measures against so called ‘lonely death’ on Tuesday, including plans to bring communities closer and introduce personalized support for public services and public-owned funeral services.
Lonely death, which refers to people living alone dying and left undiscovered for a long period of time, has been on the rise in South Korea, particularly in Seoul where households of one or two people account for 54 percent of all families living in the city.
To begin with, teams of ‘career neighbors’ comprised of local residents will be formed and dispatched across the city, surveying senior single-person households residing in poor living conditions such as semi-basement and rooftop rooms.
Seoul officials are hopeful that the new program will help bring lonely people out into the world and motivate them to participate in community activities and engage in human interaction with neighbors.
“As socially ostracized individuals living alone often feel less uncomfortable with neighbors than social workers, a network that centers around local residents is crucial,” the Seoul government said.
In teams of 10, the career neighbors in each district will visit single-person households, including those who refuse their visit, and will deliver health drinks and coupons for food and bathhouses to their home.
Pharmacists, landlords, and convenience store workers will work as ‘lookouts’ to help prevent lonely death, by reporting to the local service center about those who haven’t been seen for a long time.
In addition, the Seoul government is increasing subsidies for high-risk single-person households, as well as medical services for people living alone who suffer from depression and alcohol addiction.
“As finding and visiting single-person households at high risk for lonely death isn’t easy, a social safety net based on supportive policy and the local community’s awareness and effort is urgently needed,” the Seoul government said.
According to 2016 data from the Seoul Welfare Foundation in 2016, men aged between 45 and 65 accounted for 62 percent of lonely deaths in the city.
Hyunsu Yim (email@example.com)