Malaysia, like many of its neighbours in Asia, is in danger of getting old before we know it.
CHALLENGES of the ageing population are no longer issues faced by developed countries. Developing countries are fast catching up and Malaysia is not spared.
In fact, the speed of growth in the number of the aged in developing nations is so alarming that innovative thinking at all levels is needed to address it if we are to avert a crisis, says Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Institute of Gerontology director Prof Dr Tengku Aizan Tengku Abdul Hamid.
It is a “silent epidemic”, she says.
“While France took more than 100 years to double her population aged 65 and over from 7% to 14% (from 1865 to 1980), the older population in Malaysia aged 65 or over will take only 23 years to double from 7% in 2020 to 14% in 2043.
“So, compared with the more developed countries, Malaysia has a rather short time to prepare for the transition into an aged nation,” says Tengku Aizan.
It is therefore urgent to prepare the nation for this eventuality as it takes more than a decade for social institutions to change, she stresses.
One main problem is that ageing issues in the country are handled by separate agencies, making them fragmented and hampering them from providing the best solutions.
“There should a central planning body that oversees all aspects of population from the life course perspectives, with inputs from all stakeholders and made up of multidisciplinary team members who could analyse, organise and plan the kind of policies and programmes needed to best address the issues,” she says.
A nation is considered aged when the older population makes up 7% of its total population, Tengku Aizan highlights, quoting a US National Institute on Aging report, “An Aging World: 2008”.
As the study also points out, Sweden took 85 years to double her population aged 65 and over (1890 to 1975), Australia, 74 years (1938 to 2012), the United States, 68 years (1944 to 2012), Britain, 45 years (1930 to 1975) and Japan, 26 years (1970 to 1996) to double her population aged 65 years and over from 7% to 14%.
In contrast, developing countries such as China would only take 22 years to double her population aged 65 years (2001 to 2023), Singapore, 20 years (2007 to 2027), Korea, 18 years (1999 to 2017) and Vietnam, 16 years (2020 to 2036), she highlights, based on the findings of K. Kinsella & Y. J. Gist in their book Older Workers, Retirement and Pensions in 1995 as well as Tengku Aizan’s own calculations from the International Data Base (US Census Bureau, 2013).
Read the rest here: http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/08/09/Silent-epidemic-of-ageing-Malaysia-like-many-of-its-neighbours-in-Asia-is-in-danger-of-getting-old-b/