Govt, civil societies must prepare as Malaysia’s ageing population is set to rise

Population ageing is a global phenomenon that is unavoidable as a result of the demographic transition’s decreases in fertility and increases in lifespan. It is frequently associated with social and economic progress.

The United Nations agreed to classify those aged 60 and up as part of the older, or “ageing” population. The retirement age is related to the ageing population, and it varies for men and women, depending on their functional capacity.

The term “ageing population” refers to a situation in which an individual is unable to work as their typical everyday activity.

Internationally, the working-age population is expected to decline by 10 per cent by 2060. It will plummet by 35 per cent or more in Greece, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

Between 2015 and 2050, the percentage of people over 60 in the world’s population will be almost twofold, rising from 12 per cent, to 22 per cent, with 80 per cent of the elderly in low- and middle-income nations.

The population of seniors in Malaysia is expected to rise at the quickest rate in the future decades due to historical and current trends in fertility and mortality.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), Malaysia will have an ageing population of 5.6 million seniors, or 15 per cent of the total population, by 2035.

The United Nations defines an ageing nation as one where seven per cent or more of the population is 65 years of age, due to the country’s ageing population expanding faster than anticipated.

According to DOSM, the proportion of people 65 and older will be 17 per cent in 2050. As a result, the country will qualify as an ageing nation before 2035.

By 2056, Malaysia will have a “super-aged society”, with more than 20 per cent of the population being over 65. Fewer people of working age join the workforce as the population matures. Aside from an increase in the elderly population, the elderly are living longer, as demonstrated by an increase in life expectancy.

Because women typically live longer than men, the gap between the genders widens as people get older. Due to the lack of qualified personnel, it is more difficult for businesses to fill positions that are in high demand.

An ageing population presents numerous challenges. Loss of independence, along with physical deterioration and ageism, is one potential outcome of the process.

Furthermore, senior citizens confront a number of difficulties, including poor health care, hunger, and a lack of senior housing.

The elderly are in poorer health than younger generations. The devastation caused by numerous acute and chronic diseases is exacerbated by physical and social changes associated with ageing.

As a result, elderly adults usually have many illnesses that generate a wide range of symptoms. Rising healthcare expenses, and unstable annuities, aggravate the age problem further, along with inadequate infrastructure developed with their requirements in mind.

Government and civil society must ensure financial stability, a medical and long-term care system, social wellbeing, an appropriate environment, and accessible accommodation and transportation for the elderly.

Furthermore, it is critical to constantly emphasise to people that getting older is not a disease, and that early disability prevention measures can be implemented.

Elderly malnutrition is anticipated to be a significant issue. This is a result of dietary changes, poor dental health, and the types and quantities of food consumed.

Regular nutrition education should be given because it is crucial to preventing nutritional issues.

Additional problems include discrimination against older people who want to learn a new skill, older workers being less motivated and able to adapt to a new situation, or older workers feeling anxious and having reduced confidence in themselves while going through instructions.

Elderly malnutrition is anticipated to be a significant issue. This is a result of dietary changes, poor dental health, and the types and quantities of food consumed. Regular nutrition education should be given because it is crucial to preventing nutritional issues.

This nation’s population will inevitably get older. The ageing population poses particular issues that will increase demand for health and social services. The demographic trend of population ageing will greatly impact many government policies.

Public expenditure will be higher as the share of the elderly population grows to account for the anticipated rise in healthcare, pensions, and long-term care costs.

Additionally, a growing elderly population will result in a lack of workers, and raise concerns about the stability of old-age benefits.

As such, the government, corporations, and society as a whole, must be prepared to adjust to changing requirements and structural demographics in the economy.

The management of the elderly is heavily influenced by national public policies.

This is done to safeguard the elderly and protect them, as well as to improve individual lives and stabilise society.

To achieve revolutionary, inclusive, and sustainable development outcomes, older people must be acknowledged as active agents of societal change.

In accordance with the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, this is done to make sure that no Malaysian is left behind and to improve the wellbeing of all Malaysians, particularly the elderly.

Dr Rulia Akhtar is a research fellow at the Ungku Aziz Centre for Development Studies in Universiti Malaya.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.