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LETTER | Addressing challenges of an ageing society in Malaysia

LETTER | As the world's population continues to age, and unlike several developed nations with well-established systems in place to cater to the elderly, Malaysia is still in the process of adapting to the challenges posed by an increasingly elderly demographic.

According to Statista (a global data and business intelligence platform), some eight percent of the country's population is now aged 65 years and above, signalling a shift towards an ageing society.

The need for more comprehensive support and services for senior citizens in Malaysia is becoming increasingly evident.

As senior citizens in Malaysia navigate the complexities of ageing, they encounter a range of challenges. Ensuring financial well-being is of paramount importance, but a significant number of them unfortunately experience financial insecurities, particularly in relation to retirement planning and fraud and financial exploitation.

Senior citizens also often face age-related health issues that demand specialised care and support.

Community engagement

Hence, adapting the financial as well as healthcare system in Malaysia to provide accessible and high-quality services for the elderly is imperative.

In fact, the inability to pay for care and treatment at an old age is one reason why healthcare needs go unmet, especially among low-income families.

Additionally, the golden years of the elderly tend to see them battling social isolation and loneliness. Thus, emphasising the need for community engagement and opportunities for lifelong learning is vital.

For example, age-friendly elderly environments foster social inclusion as physical challenges related to mobility, accessibility, and safety have been addressed seeing that public spaces, infrastructure, and communities are designed for the needs of the elderly.

In response to these challenges, the Active Ageing Impact Lab at Taylor's University plays a pivotal role in championing the well-being and empowerment of elderly individuals through a diverse range of initiatives.

Meaningful lives

Carefully designed to address the multifaceted needs of senior citizens in the Klang Valley region, the lab offers Fall Prevention Webinar that guides the elderly on seeking appropriate help and outlining post-fall maintenance, and lifelong learning classes such as Zumba and traditional Malay dance, baking, digital literacy, and many more.

These initiatives enable individuals to lead independent, safe, and meaningful lives during their golden years, promoting active ageing and community engagement.

Furthermore, the lab hosts workshops such as advance care planning workshops in partnership with NGOs. These workshops are dedicated to raising awareness with the primary objective of influencing attitudes, behaviours, and future policy and legislation concerning healthcare preferences and end-of-life care decisions.

Designed to enhance the financial well-being of elderly individuals – addressing key concerns related to retirement planning and financial literacy – the lab also collaborates with financial institutions to offer a comprehensive suite of financial literacy workshops. This workshop educates on estate planning, bookkeeping, and managing and safeguarding of funds.

Dementia care

Enabling caregivers to provide better care for senior citizens, the lab also offers upskilling caregivers programme which provides specialised training and resources to enhance the skills and knowledge of global data and business intelligence platform caregivers, such as for dementia care.

Moreover, to ensure the safe and effective management of pharmaceuticals for the elderly, a comprehensive medication review initiative in senior care centres has been implemented.

As Malaysia grapples with the challenges of an ageing society, initiatives from the establishment of Taylor's University's active ageing impact lab can help improve the lives of senior citizens by providing educational, financial, health-related, and care services.

These efforts not only support the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals but also fulfil the university's purpose of positively impacting society.

To celebrate the vitality of senior citizens, the lab will be hosting a free admission 'Active Ageing Festival 2023' on Sept 23 with the theme 'Celebrating Wisdom: Active Ageing Adventure'.

The event features a variety of engaging activities, including seminars, workshops, physical games, and interactive exercises. The festival also offers free medical screening to prioritise the health of senior participants.

To learn more about the Active Ageing Impact Lab and its contributions, visit Taylor's University's Impact Labs.

CHONG WEI YING is deputy director of Taylor’s University's Active Ageing Impact Lab.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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