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Posts tagged ‘ageing population’

Gan Kim Yong in Japan to study ways to address needs of ageing population

Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong (Photo: MOH)

Health Minister and Minister-in-charge of Ageing Issues, Mr Gan Kim Yong, is leading a delegation of officials to Japan for a four-day trip from September 17-20 to study how the country is addressing the healthcare and ageing needs of its population.

SINGAPORE: Health Minister and Minister-in-charge of Ageing Issues, Mr Gan Kim Yong, is leading a delegation of officials to Japan for a four-day trip from September 17-20 to study how the country is addressing the healthcare and ageing needs of its population.

The ministry hopes to learn from Japan’s experiences in developing its aged care sector and in health promotion, as well as policies on the financing of long-term care.

During his visit, Mr Gan will visit healthcare facilities as well as long-term care providers, which offer health and social care for seniors.

He will also visit the Kashiwa-no-Ha Smart City Project, which aims to develop a city of health and longevity.

Mr Gan will also call on Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Mr Norihisa Tamura on September 17.

A Health Ministry statement said this is Mr Gan’s first trip to Japan in his capacity as Minister for Health. He is accompanied by senior officials from the ministry and other government agencies.

– CNA/ac

via Gan Kim Yong in Japan to study ways to address needs of ageing population – Channel NewsAsia.

UN warns over impact of rapidly ageing populations

Elderly people work out with wooden dumb-bells in Tokyo, Japan

Japan is the only country at present where 30% of the population are over 60


The world needs to do more to prepare for the impact of a rapidly ageing population, the UN has warned – particularly in developing countries.

Within 10 years the number of people aged over 60 will pass one billion, a report by the UN Population Fund said.

The demographic shift will present huge challenges to countries’ welfare, pension and healthcare systems.

The UN agency also said more had to be done to tackle “abuse, neglect and violence against older persons”.

The number of older people worldwide is growing faster than any other age group.

The report, Ageing in the 21st Century: A Celebration and a Challenge, estimates that one in nine people around the world are older than 60.

The elderly population is expected to swell by 200 million in the next decade to surpass one billion, and reach two billion by 2050.

This rising proportion of older people is a consequence of success – improved nutrition, sanitation, healthcare, education and economic well-being are contributing factors, the report says.

But the UN and a charity that also contributed to the report, HelpAge International, say the ageing population is being widely mismanaged.

“In many developing countries with large populations of young people, the challenge is that governments have not put policies and practices in place to support their current older populations or made enough preparations for 2050,” the agencies said in a joint statement.

‘Cast out’

The report warns that the skills and experience of older people are being wasted, with many under-employed and vulnerable to discrimination.

HelpAge said more countries needed to introduce pension schemes to ensure economic independence and reduce poverty in old age. It stressed that it was not enough to simply pass legislation – the new schemes needed to be funded properly.

The UN report used India as an example, saying it needed to take urgent steps in this area.

Almost two-thirds of India’s population is under 30. But it also has 100 million elderly people – a figure that is expected to increase threefold by 2050.

Traditionally, people in India live in large, extended families and elderly people have been well looked after. But the trend now is to have smaller, nuclear families and many of the country’s elderly are finding themselves cast out, says the BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi.

There are more and more cases of physical and mental abuse, including neglect, suffered by the elderly at the hands of their families.

It is slowly becoming a widespread social problem, particularly in urban areas, one which India still has not got to grips with, our correspondent says.

By contrast, the UN report cited the case of Bolivia as an example of good practice in the developing world. All Bolivians over the age of 60 get a pension that is the equivalent of about $30 (£19) a month.

Bolivia suffers from frequent flooding and landslides, and older people there have been organised into “Brigadas Blancas” – White Haired Brigades. They help with preparations for emergencies, and accessing humanitarian aid.


Are retirement villages the answer for the ageing population?

The social care system is often said to be in crisis. Thousands of people each year sell their homes to pay for the care that the state is struggling to provide. Could retirement villages be the solution for some?

Leslie and Joanne Wolfendale, both aged 89, talk about their experience of Willicombe Park Retirement Village in Tunbridge Wells

Leslie Wolfendale is quite clear. The 89-year-old describes the move to Willicombe Park Retirement Village in Kent three years ago as the “best move we have ever made.”

“We have lived all over – Berkshire, Cheshire and south Wales. But we have never regretted moving here.”

Leslie and his wife, Joanne, moved to the village, which boasts 67 one- and two-bedroom properties, a gym, swimming pool and restaurant, from south Wales where he had worked as a managing director of a manufacturing company.

“I didn’t think we would ever move to a retirement village, but when you look at the facilities and the way it promotes independent living, we started to think differently,” Leslie says.

FriendsThe couple, who have three children, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, have tried a host of different activities during their time at the village.

Between them, they have done Tai Chi, exercise classes, aqua aerobics and yoga.

They have also got involved in the social events, which have included themed nights in the restaurant, crossword groups and quizzes.

Independence is really promoted here. I swim every day, except Wednesday when I work”

Michael Mercier Willicombe resident

“You do meet people and become friends. That is very nice. It is important to remain active as you get older,” says Joanne, who is also 89.

But she also says it is the support that they get which makes a big difference.

“The bins are collected from outside our apartment, we can have meals delivered to us, anything we want really.”

The village also has an in-house care team, which helps residents with activities such as washing, dressing and eating if needed.

The Wolfendales do not need such support yet, but Joanne says it is a great comfort to know it can be easily arranged if they need it.

“It is a reassurance.”

Promoting healthOthers at the village, run by the Audley group, share their views. Michael Mercier, who is 86, moved to the village 12 years ago after his wife died.

He still works one morning a week doing the accounts for a local business.

“Independence is really promoted here. I swim every day, except Wednesday when I work.”

He too has not needed to call on the day-to-day care services available, although he has had some modifications made to his home, including having rails installed after he had a fall.

Swimming pool

Swimming is just one of the activities that is available at the village

And it is having this sort of support on hand that helps to keep the elderly independent at such villages.

Research by York University has shown that retirement villages have a beneficial impact on maintaining and promoting health.

In particular, the study highlighted reductions in falls, greater well-being because of less social isolation and the ability of villages to provide residents with better access to services such as blood pressure checking, flu jabs and exercise classes.

The attraction of retirement villages is also bound up with the fact that they offer the home-owning elderly a way of staying on the property ladder while getting all the care they need.

Apartments at Willicombe are currently fetching somewhere between £200,000 to £350,000. People buy them and own the property as any leaseholder would.

Maintenance charges – for things such as bin collections, gardening and window cleaning – are high at £600 per month. However, other villages away from the south-east tend to have much lower fees.

Growing sector?But despite the success of complexes like Willicombe, retirement villages are still few and far between.

Overall there are fewer than 20,000 retirement village properties in the UK. To put that into context, Australia, which has a third of the population, has 160,000 units.

However, there are signs that could be about to change.

Getting planning permission can be difficult and I think Brits have an attachment to their homes than is not always seen in other countries”

Nick Sanderson Audley Homes

Anchor, a not-for-profit care provider which has traditionally operated at the lower end of the market, providing home care and running care homes, has started moving into the retirement village sector.

It has recently opened a complex called Denham Garden Village, set in 30 acres of Buckinghamshire countryside.

Anchor has another three in development and sees them as a growth area.

Nigel Hackett, Anchor’s head of building development, says: “I think with the ageing population and the way things are moving, there is going to be growing demand.”

Nick Sanderson, who is chairman of the Association of Retirement Villages and chief executive of Audley, agrees.

“Retirement villages have not taken off here as they have elsewhere. Getting planning permission can be difficult and I think Brits have an attachment to their homes than is not always seen in other countries.

“But I really believe things are about to change. There is a new generation of older people coming through who were born after the war.

“They have money and will demand more. They won’t put up with the status quo.”

But that does not mean there are not challenges for such villages.

Richard Humphries, a social care expert at the King’s Fund health think tank, agrees they have “great potential” to become an important part of elderly care provision.

But he adds: “I think they need to make sure they get better at providing support when care needs increase in the last few years of life.

“They have not always been so good at dealing with that and if people end up in a care home, it defeats the whole purpose of them.”


S’pore must up fertility rate now, or else

Singapore must increase its total fertility rate between now and 2015, or the country’s labour force will shrink to the point that it becomes very difficult to support the growing ageing population here, population experts warned yesterday.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion on demographic challenges, organised by the Civil Service College and the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), they added that a low fertility rate could also make sustaining strong economic growth a problem.

The day-long event was held at Orchard Hotel.

Mr Yeoh Lam Keong, an IPS adjunct senior research fellow, said that it would take 15 to 20 years before the next generation can make an impact on Singapore’s economy.

While Singapore cannot afford to stop attracting migrants, it should place priority on developing concrete ways to tackle the dwindling birth rate, many experts said.

This, Mr Yeoh said, boils down to making Singapore a liveable city with social compactness, and not just a world-class city that attracts talent.

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said: “On population issues, we need to go beyond the rational dimensions.

“People do not have babies for rational reasons (alone), but emotional ones (as well). So what is this big emotional deficit in Singapore that leads to fewer babies? These are much, much harder to discover.”

Solutions the experts proposed revolve around ensuring adequate social security for citizens, making housing affordable and having a more egalitarian education system.

Dr Toh Mun Heng, an associate professor with the Department of Strategy and Policy at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, said that policymakers need to be more mindful of issues involving internal competitiveness within Singapore.

Mr Yeoh stressed the need for better social protection and stronger social-safety nets to ensure that the well-being of the average Singapore citizen is taken care of.

“Singapore, in 30 to 50 years’ time, is not going to be competing on cost…the whole centre of gravity of global economic growth is in our neighbourhood,” said Mr Yeoh, referring to rapidly growing economies like India and China.

“Our challenge is to find our niche based on what we have. That comparative – not competitive – advantage is going to be based on the talent we can draw here on the basis of our liveability.” Another topic discussed was Singapore’s need to invest in forging a more definite national identity as the country takes in more migrants.

Prof Mahbubani noted that Singaporeans do not have a common set of answers when asked by foreigners about their identity as citizens. He said: “And then the foreigners will say to you, that if you can’t agree on what your Singapore identity is, what is it you are asking of me?”

An IPS study released yesterday showed that Singapore’s annual average labour-force growth rate of about 3.6 per cent over the last decade will plummet, even with more foreigners flocking to the country.

It highlighted an increasing burden on the young as the country’s total population size declines. This is because they would have to fork out more taxes to support the elderly.


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