We must ensure healthy and independent ageing, says expert

A good system of care for the elderly must be developed as the nation pursues economic development.

PETALING JAYA: An expert in age care has urged the government to sharpen its focus on nurturing a healthy ageing population.

Noting that Malaysia was joining the ranks of countries with ageing populations, Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society adviser warned of the adverse effects of paying too little attention to ensuring healthy ageing.

He told FMT it would be a mistake to ignore the importance of developing a good system of care for the elderly while the nation pursues economic development.

“While it’s good that people are living longer,” he said, “we must ensure the aged won’t burden the younger generation with their health issues.

“During this Covid-19 crisis, we can see that the old are more prone to sickness. This places a weight on the elderly care system.”

He noted that many middle-aged Malaysians were finding themselves in a situation in which they have to take care of both their children and their parents.

“More often than not, old people in the low-income group neglect their health,” he added. “They are not financially independent and often have to rely on their children or other family members.”

He suggested that the subject of healthy ageing be included in the education curriculum to create awareness of the need to nurture healthy and independent ageing.

The statistics department estimated that Malaysia’s current population is 32.73 million, out of which 2.26 million are people aged 65 years and above. The number of those aged 14 years and below has decreased to 7.53 million in the first quarter of this year from 7.63 million last year.

Nathan said Malaysia would eventually face a shortage of workers if the trend were to continue.

He noted that Japan, which has a large ageing population, was facing a serious shortage in its work force and was importing foreigners to run the country.