A fresh call went out yesterday for the government to provide more help to the elderly. It came after a survey found many old people would like to do volunteer work or have a social life but were prevented from doing so by the cost involved. The inability to pay for travel and meals out was cited as the main reason for the elderly not wanting to work as volunteers, the survey by the Hong Kong Society for the Aged (Sage) and the University of Hong Kong found. More than 90 per cent of respondents agreed more social activities would improve their health and make their lives more fruitful. Fifty-three per cent rejected suggestions they became useless when they grew old. The society's senior manger for quality and research, Teresa Lee Sau-lai, said it was a pity that the government did not provide subsidies for elderly volunteers. 'Many elderly people are very healthy and intelligent. It would be a waste if they are forced to stay at home all day doing nothing. Many people told us they wanted to remain socially active after retirement. However, they are forced to stay at home because they cannot afford the expenses,' Ms Lee said. The telephone poll of 566 people aged over 60 showed that 69.2 per cent did not want to work as volunteers and 63.2 per cent said they were unwilling to reflect their views to the government. Possibly because of the expense, more than 50 per cent said they did not want to expand their social lives after retirement. Sage member Sunny Cheng Sun, 65, criticised the government for failing to map out a comprehensive policy for elderly people. 'The government focuses on medical services and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance but has ignored the needs of those who remain healthy and still want to contribute to society,' he said. Hong Kong had more than 1 million people aged 60 and over, the organisation said.