Hong Kong should step up training and support for carers of elderly, advisory body says after spate of murder-suicide attempts

Hong Kong should step up training and support for carers of elderly, advisory body says after spate of murder-suicide attempts

Hong Kong should step up training and support for carers of the elderly struggling to cope, the head of an advisory body has said after a suspected murder-suicide attempt at an upmarket neighbourhood last month brought the issue back into the spotlight.

Dr Donald Li Kwok-Tung, chairman of the city’s Elderly Commission, said on Saturday that promotion efforts needed to be ramped up to combat the taboo against carers seeking outside help, ensuring more people got the support they needed.

“We know that there are many difficulties for carers looking after the elderly. We have resources that can help you. You could speak to someone on a hotline, there are also volunteer organisations who would provide training,” he said.

“There are also day-respite services for the elderly to give carers a breather.”

Li also stressed the importance of training care workers brought in from overseas, while authorities needed to better promote all available resources, such as utilising doctors and social workers.

“How would one observe issues with the elderly? There is simple training or even one-day courses in Hong Kong for helpers to spot whether there are issues,” he said. “It’s very important to pay attention to [the elderly’s] emotions as well.”

Ramped-up publicity efforts should also highlight that effective care for seniors was a universal issue affecting people regardless of their income or background, Li said.

He added that more promotion work on this front would encourage people to seek help rather than ignoring their problems, or resorting to extreme measures such as suicide.

Dr Donald Li (left), chairman of the Elderly Commission, has stressed that caring for the elderly is a universal concern for all residents. Photo: Jelly Tse

Last month, an 84-year-old dementia sufferer was found dead with tape covering his nose and mouth at his home on Beacon Hill in Kowloon Tong, with his wife discovered injured and unconscious.

Police arrested the woman, 71, over the suspected murder-suicide attempt.

The force at the time said the victim’s wife had allegedly started thinking about killing her husband and herself about two weeks before the incident, as she was concerned about being unable to care for him.

In January, an 80-year-old man died in an alleged murder-suicide attempt at Shek Mun MTR station. His 71-year-old wife, who is disabled and has dementia, survived the incident.

Staff found the pair inside a bathroom with the couple’s heads covered by plastic bags tied with strings.

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A police source said the man was believed to have put the bag on his wife’s head before doing the same to himself.

The spate of tragedies has sparked concerns about the well-being of elderly residents and their carers.

Experts have estimated that 1.3 million carers are currently under significant stress, with local authorities offering limited support and lacking tailored policies as the city grapples with a rapidly ageing population.

If you have suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, help is available. For Hong Kong, dial +852 18111 for the government-run “Mental Health Support Hotline” or +852 2896 0000 for The Samaritans and +852 2382 0000 for Suicide Prevention Services. In the US, call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org for the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

For a list of other nations’ helplines, see this page.



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