In front of a luxurious shopping center in Bangkok, a 70-year-old woman sells handmade keyrings to tourists visiting Thailand, a country destined to age before developing.
"Every month I receive a state aid of 700 baht (about 21 dollars or 18 euros) but it is never enough. I pay about 100-200 baht a day for housing and food and selling key chains here helps me with these expenses, "explains the seller, who prefers not to reveal her name.
The old woman lives in Surin, a rural province in the northeast of the country, but travels to the capital when she does not have to work on the harvest in the rice fields to sell the keychains that her neighbors carry out.
According to data from the National Statistics Office of Thailand (ONE), in the next three years, Thailand will have 20 percent of the population aged 60 or older, which will make it one of the oldest countries in Asia.
Other Asian nations such as Japan or South Korea have older societies, but their economies are developed, while China is also aging at a great pace but its GDP is growing faster than Thailand's.
According to ONE, Thailand has about 10.2 million elderly people, but only 37.6 percent receive state pensions, which range between 600 and 1,000 baht (between about 16 dollars / 15 euros and 30 dollars / 26). euros).
A fifth of this group has no income and the average debt exceeds 1,800 dollars (about 1,500 euros).
A 60-year-old security guard at a well-known supermarket in Bangkok tells Efe that he is not in good health, but he has to continue working to support the studies of his 16-year-old daughter.
"I have to continue working because my daughter's education is expensive and the government's money does not help anything. With that money I can not even pay for the doctor, "says the guard.
Given the shortage of pensions, the Thai authorities also offer subsidies to families at risk of exclusion of 2,000 baht (60 dollars or 53 euros), no more than twice a year.
The Thai government also has a network of 12 public geriatric residences in the country that are not sufficient for the growing number of elderly people.
Baan Bangkhae, an asylum with a maximum capacity of 250 people in Bangkok, has a waiting list of 1,000 people.
The center offers free accommodation in dormitories for elderly people without resources, as well as gardens, a computer room and even a karaoke.
The more affluent can rent a private room for 1,500 baht (about 45 dollars or 40 euros) per month or opt for a bungalow in exchange for an entrance of 300,000 baht (about 9,000 dollars or 8,000 euros) and a monthly rent of 1,500 baht.
The center provides medical services and food, but not the expense for the use of electricity in the rooms and homes.
Paiwan Polawan, general director of the Department for the Elderly of the Ministry of Social Affairs, points out that the Government plans to build, instead of asylums, 400 day centers for the elderly, in addition to the 878 that it manages now.
The general director considers that it is preferable for the elderly to live in their homes, as long as they have adequate medical attention and can go to the day centers.