The Gov’t must prioritise senior citizens’ wellbeing too

IT is no secret that the elderly in Malaysia are often overlooked in areas concerning policy-making, rights and entitlements.

This had got worse, without a doubt, as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. Old folks – particularly those who have been left alone to fend for themselves, as well as those in old folks’ homes – seem to have been left out by the Government for aid during the movement control order (MCO) period.

With Malaysia on its way to becoming an ageing society by 2030, this is a serious matter. The statistics outlined by the World Bank in its recent study further adds weight to this issue.

According to the ‘A Silver Lining: Productive and Inclusive Aging for Malaysia’ study, rapid ageing will be a crucial mega-trend affecting Malaysia in the coming decades. As of 2020, more than 7% of the country’s population are aged 65 and above.

The rate of ageing is set to increase in the coming years, and the share of population aged 65 and above is projected to double to a whopping 14% by 2044, and later, to 20% by 2056.

As the size of the country’s aged population increases, it only makes sense for there to be a more concentrated effort by the Government and the relevant stakeholders to come together to address this matter.

In the past, various quarters have called for the Government to re-look the elder care services and discrimination against seniors. In many instances, the staff at old folks’ homes are not properly trained to care for senior citizens, thus leading to abuse.

In terms of discrimination, once the senior adults are past retirement age, it is difficult for them to gain employment, which deprives them of an income. Even those who get to continue working face discrimination at the workplace due to their age.

Having said that, something definitely needs to be done to improve the quality of life for the elderly as a whole, and this is where specific and elderly-centric legislations and public policies need to come in.

For now, the Welfare Department and the relevant ministries must act quickly to ensure that the wellbeing of the elderly is taken care of, before this becomes a bigger issue in the future. – May 9, 2021


Photo credit: NST

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