Ageing is a part and parcel of life. Our bodies change from birth up until we achieve maturity throughout life. With its dynamic, ageing is heavily subjected to the construction of society, considering the age of 60 as retirees and beginning of old age.
As estimated, Malaysia's population will experience ageing growth from 7% to 20% for the next 20 years. The escalation of numbers in ageing occurs throughout the world's population, results from longer life expectancy making the elderly growing into the sixties and above. While ageing brings opportunity for individuals, however, many will be forced into living in the middle or low-income financial state due to its rising pace of population.
Growing old healthily enables individuals, families, or societies to extend life progressing in interests and even contribute to communities. Given the extra years in the life of good health and supportive environments, their capabilities to engage in things they value mean a lot different from younger people. Subsequently creates positive impacts in life rather than prevails by old age in mental and physical decline bringing negative impacts for society and older people.
Factors of healthy ageing
External factors play a crucial role in the long-term effect on our healthy, physical and social environments. Homes, communities, neighborhoods, and personal characteristics are all indicators to influence one's development and maintenance of healthy behaviors other than genetics. Without realizing it, these factors influence people at an early age or throughout their lives, particularly in maintaining a balanced diet, engage in regular physical activity and restrain from tobacco use to reduce non-communicable diseases and improve physical and mental functionality. Living in supportive environments with accessible public buildings, or transports is essential for them to do what is important despite losses in capacity. Environments that are easy to walk around is considered supportive environment.
Having a good attitude remains vital for older people. Discipline in strength training to maintain muscle mass and nutrition helps preserve cognitive function while delaying care dependency and reverse frailty. With a supportive environment comes the dedication of the elderly to move about conveniently and less reliance on others.
Challenges of healthy ageing
1. Limitation of accessibility
Without a supportive environment, ageing is a challenge in many ways, especially in limited healthcare facilities or communities. Ageing exists diversely with mental and physical capabilities, resulting in a myriad of decline in health within our population, hence, inadequate equipment to cater for the elderly may result in poor functionality of the older people.
Common stereotypes exist among the younger population towards the elderly are frail, dependent, or a burden to society, thus, leading to discrimination towards the elderly. In this case, public health and society are needed to address the issue which can affect health policies and opportunities older people have to experience healthy ageing.
3. Rapid changing world
Technological advancement, globalization, urbanization, and migration influence the lives of older people. Older people now live differently compared to those of the olden days, such as living independently or separately from families. Therefore, public health response must take into consideration of current trends to develop policies accordingly.
So, what can we provide?
As for civil effort, we can equip facilities and non-competitive physical activities to encourage a healthy lifestyle and spontaneously adds to friends making among older people. Through the promotion of research that rectifies the current and future needs of the older generation, we can achieve a better and sustainable future for all. Proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health, the four-year action plan strategies in collaborating government, civil society, international agencies, professionals, academia, media, and private sectors in crafting comprehensive plans to improve lives of elder, families, and communities.
Being prepared for what is about to come is the best strategy that yields the greatest benefits.
Here at IMM Carehub, Malaysia's First Private research-based Senior Lifestyle Centre, let us be your guide to your wonderful years. Call us at 017-2100218.