With Palau’s aging population projected to rise to make up about 25% of Palau’s population by the year 2050, the Senate has introduced a measure to create a national policy on aging.

Senate Bill 10-126 passed both houses of the Olbiil Era Kelulau with amendments from the House of Delegates, passed by the conference committee of both houses and now awaits formal approval of Senate and House before it is sent to the Executive Branch for action.

The title of the bill proclaims it is “to establish a commission to develop a comprehensive National Policy for the Aging”.

According to the bill findings, by the year 2050, Palauans over the age of 60 will rise “from the current 9.9% of the population to 24.6%” of the total population. This change in demographics is expected to worsen as the number of young people leaving the island is also expected to increase.

The bill states that the elderly population is one of the most vulnerable segments of the population and faces unique challenges including “access to social services, financial support, economic opportunities, and security.”

The measure proposes to create a Commission on National Aging Care whose initial task is to develop a National Policy on Care for the Aging that is “responsive to the needs and address the challenges of the aging population.”

Some of the key challenges and issues the bill mandates the Policy to address include; Palau values and tradition, gender roles, income, and economic factors and health and social services.”

Additionally, the bill proposes creation of Social Service and Care Center for the Aging, which will among other things, provide “permanent and temporary housing, medical services, adequate care, sustained interaction between residents and the community…and other necessary resources and services to support and improve the quality of life for the aging.”

The bill also mandates the Commission to submit the Policy within 9 months after the law comes into effect. (L.N. Reklai)