MALAYSIA is currently experiencing a steady increase in the population of older people relative to the total population as a result of declining fertility and increasing life expectancy.
The number of Malaysians aged 60 and above is projected to reach 3.5 million in 2020 and 6.3 million in 2040 (about 20 per cent of total population).
Ageing can entail multiple losses, including loss of work and physical functions. As much as people want to be able to stay youthful and enjoy life to its fullest, no matter what lengths they go to to stay young, there will always be some kind of fear in the back of their minds about getting old, such as the fear of mental and physical decline, losing a spouse, and losing one’s income and financial capability to support ones self or loved ones.
In spite of these depressing thoughts, ageing can also be associated with many rewarding experiences. Positive ageing is a term used to describe the process of maintaining a positive attitude, feeling good about oneself, keeping fit and healthy, and engaging fully in life as a person ages.
Research shows that those who age positively live longer, are healthier and enjoy a good quality of life. How people manage, think about and cope with the challenges can affect how well they cope with ageing.
There are many factors that can influence people’s attitudes towards ageing.
Our survey on 518 Malaysians aged 40 and above indicates that key factors, such as individual problems/worries in life, fears of disabling disease and long-term illness, longer life expectancy, old age care, post retirement financial adequacy and sufficiency of government financial support, influenced respondents’ attitude towards ageing.
The majority of respondents are employed and the number of men and women surveyed were almost equal in number. It is noteworthy that a majority of those surveyed stated that they expected to live between six to 20 years more after 60.
Therefore, it becomes imperative that people be adequately prepared physically and financially if they are to live a quality life.
It then becomes important to understand the public's perception of ageing as it also has government policy implications and economic impact, inevitably.
PROF DATUK NORMA MANSOR,
Director, Social Security Research
Centre (SSRC), Faculty of Economics & Administration University of Malaya