Elderly to outnumber young after 2045, says ministry

Chew-mei-fun_warga-tua_600

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysians aged 60 and above will outnumber the country’s young below age 15 after 2045.

Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister, Chew Mei Fun said by 2045, those aged 60 and above will equal the number of the young, with each group making up 20% of the country’s total population.

“The old will outnumber the young from then on,” she said when launching the Ageing Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia Demographic Transition, Policy and Programmatic Response book and dissemination forum, here, today.

Chew said the proportion of the elderly had increased from 587,000 or 5.4% in 1970 to 2.25 million or 8.0% in 2010, and was projected to increase to 4.9 million or 15.3% in 2030 and 9.6 million or 23.6% in 2050.

She said an ageing population was not necessarily a bad thing as it was merely a by-product of development, and improved health structures and systems that brought about reduced mortality and increased longevity.

She said many old adults were left behind in the countryside while their children moved to the cities.

Findings from the Malaysian Population and Family Survey 2014 showed that 9.0% of the elderly were living alone while 20.9% were living with their spouse only, she noted.

“These older people may be experiencing the empty nest syndrome and this kind of situation must be given special attention as it may affect the emotional, health and economic stability of the elderly,” she said.

Chew said while the government supported and prepared for an aged population, everyone had to do their share and prepare for old age as well.

“We must start from home to educate our younger generation about valuing and honouring the elderly, and strengthen this education in our schools,” she added.

Chew also said that people needed to be made aware of the importance of planning for their retirement. She said findings by the Employees’ Provident Fund showed that the average savings for members aged 54 were RM214,923 for men and RM162,296 for women.

“Indeed, we aspire to see older people age with dignity and respect, lead an independent and fulfilling life, as well as be integrated into their families and the community and country in general,” she added.