RIYADH — The Council of Ministers on Tuesday approved the law for the protection of the rights of the elderly people and their care. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman chaired the virtual session of the Cabinet.
The Cabinet’s approval of the law is regarded as a landmark initiative aimed at enhancing the status and well-being of the elderly, as well as maintaining their security and safety, protecting their rights, and ensuring their proper family and community care. There are provisions in the law to protect the physical and psychological rights of the elderly people.
On April 27 last year, the Shoura Council approved the draft law for the protection of older people’s rights in the Kingdom. There are provisions in the law, with 21 articles, to enhance awareness around the rights of elderly people in society.
According to the draft law, it is not permitted to send an elderly man or woman to a shelter or care facility without their consent. It dictates that elderly people have the right to live with their families, who in turn must respond to their needs in dignity.
The law also aimed to implement a system promoting volunteer activities in elderly care and offering special facilities for them in public and commercial places, residential areas, and mosques. While approving the draft law, the Shoura Council called on the private sector to foster a healthy and enjoyable environment for older people by opening community centers and social clubs.
The Saudi government’s Unified National Platform reported, quoting the statistics of the Department of Statistics, that the number of elderly people in the Kingdom crossed one million, which represent five percent of the total population. Article 27 of the Basic Law preserves the rights of the elderly as it states: “The state guarantees the right of the citizen and his family, in the event of emergency, disease, disability, and old age, supports the social security system, and encourages institutions and individuals to contribute to charitable work.”
The government embarked on a series of initiatives to protect the rights of the elderly. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development provides free statutory assistance to the elderly. The Kingdom’s Elderly Rights and Care System Project exempts them from paying any charges.
The initiatives also include setting up of Waqar, a non-profit association, which seeks to support the elderly, protect their rights, and help in their care. The Ministry of Health launched services dedicated to the elderly, apart from the Taqdeer service launched by the Ministerial Agency of Civil Affairs and Elderly.