This feature first appeared on The Sun, by Ian MyIntyre
THE children who witnessed the raising of the flag of a newly independent Malaya 63 years ago are senior citizens today.
They would have witnessed all the ups and downs as Malaya, and subsequently Malaysia, turned from a fledgling nation finding its feet into one of the more economically stable countries in the Southeast Asian region.
Now in their golden years, they, and the nation as a whole, face a new challenge.
In just another decade, the segment of the population aged 60 and above will more than double to 15%, making Malaysia an ageing country.
With advancing age comes greater vulnerability to health problems. This fact has never come so close to home as it has now. The elderly now account for 62.6% of all the 125 Covid-19 fatalities in Malaysia.
Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart-related ailments are more widespread among the elderly than the young.
Kebun Bunga assemblyman Jason Ong Khan Lee (pix) said Malaysia could learn from Japan on how to deal with ageing.
The country, which has the highest life expectancy, has one of the most comprehensive social care systems in the world.
Ong said older people who are still able could be absorbed into the workforce as casual or part-time workers, especially since the practice of working from home is becoming increasingly acceptable.
“We can hire people based on their ability and experience regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or religion. The same should apply to those aged 70 and above,” Ong told theSun yesterday.
At the same time, those who are no longer able to work should not be forgotten.
“The community can help by chipping in to provide those living in old folks homes with amenities such as TV sets and digital devices to improve their social awareness and help to integrate them with the rest of society,” he said.
He said more should also be done to ensure they stay healthy.
To address the health needs of the elderly, Homage, a healthcare service provider, has introduced a tech-driven service for the aged.
This is an app that enables family members to monitor the movements as well as vitals of the elderly person, founder Gillian Tee told theSun. It keeps the family connected while an elderly person is receiving treatment or other healthcare services.
This has become more crucial as our society ages.
The number of those who bear witness to our birth will continue to dwindle. Soon this landmark in our history will just be a passage in the history books. Let it not come too soon.