~ The number of persons in the world aged 60 years or older is expected to almost triple.
~ In developed countries, there will be two elderly persons for every child.
~ In developing countries, the proportion of the older population is expected to rise to about 20%.
~ The number of 'oldest-old' people, those who are 80 years old or over, will increase from 86 million in 2005 to 402million. Most of them will live in the developing world.
(Source: UN Population Division)
The UN categorizes any nation with 10% of its population aged 60 and above as an ageing nation. Going by this definition, Malaysia will reach ageing nation status by 2035 when a projected 15% of the population will be aged 60 and above. That's less than 25 years away. How is the country preparing to cope with the increase in this demographic group? Do we have the necessary systems and structures in place to meet the needs and demands of an ageing society?
|Lifelong learning programme of activities for senior citizens.|
|Clementi Community Centre, Singapore|
There are policies in place to help the elderly like the Maintenance of Parents Act. The >60 Design Centre is Singapore's National Design Centre for Ageing. It was set up in 2008 to generate products and services to improve the lifestyle of older adults. The Housing and Development Board is committed to providing suitable and affordable housing for Singaporeans aged 55 and above. Every community centre in the republic has a programme of activities for senior citizens. The facilities at these centres are well maintained.
|Former Singapore PMs Goh Chock Tong (left) and Lee Kuan Yew.|
The point of highlighting Singapore's initiatives in meeting the needs of the elderly is to provide a blueprint for our government to get started on preparing for Malaysia's ageing population. What has it done so far? Almost nothing that comes close to the Singapore government's all-out efforts.
|Community Centre in Petaling Jaya in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur|
|An old folks home in KL - counting the days.|
There are people who will come to the defence of Malaysia. They say it's not fair to compare Singapore, a tiny nation of 5 million people with Malaysia which has a population of 28 million. Ok then, let's compare Singapore and the Greater Klang Valley, or only the greying population of the two countries. Whichever yardstick we choose, Malaysia still comes up short.
|Senior citizens queuing up to register for the special discount card for travel on RapidKL buses.|
What can we do to make the government take notice of us? Take to the streets in a peaceful demonstration?