Saturday, October 12, 2013

THE SAD TRUTH ABOUT GROWING OLD IN MALAYSIA

The Heat, Issue 6 (12-18 Oct) on sale now
On 25 September, The Heat, Malaysia's latest weekly news magazine, interviewed  me for my views on nursing homes in the country. The 2-page article appears in Issue 6 (Oct 12-18). Unfortunately online access to the article is for subscribers only. If you are interested to check out The Heat as well as the article, you can pick up a copy at any newsplus outlet and at major bookstores. I bought mine at KLCC and was given a RM5.90 voucher for a drink at Chatime. That's value for money!

I hope the article will help draw attention to the plight of the urban elderly, especially those in their 70s and 80s who require assistance with activities of daily living (ADL). Not only is there an acute shortage of decent and affordable nursing homes and retirement homes, but also daycare centres where trained caregivers can keep an eye on the old folks while their adult children are at work.

For adult children, it is a huge risk to leave an elderly parent alone at home. What if Dad falls and hurts himself? What if he has a heart attack, or a stroke? What if Mom who has Alzheimer's wanders out and can't remember how to go home?

The sad truth about growing old in Malaysia
By Raphael Wong
Thursday, 10 Oct 2013, 07:15 PM

Where do you go when you grow old? In Malaysia, there are not many choices, especially for those from middle-class families.

The rich and affluent can afford the top of the line nursing or retirement homes, some of which costs upwards of RM8,000 a month. The poor can look to the government for assistance, mostly through the Welfare Department and get a place in an old folk’s home.

But those in the middle class will be left to fend for themselves. They cannot afford the high-end nursing or retirement homes, and neither do they qualify for government assistance – a problem that will persist and have a major social impact as the Malaysian population begins to age rapidly.

According to the Statistics Department, there were 1.4 million Malaysians aged 65 years and above, or about 5% of the total population in 2010. This number is set to soar to an estimated 2.2 million by 2020, accounting for 6.8% of the population.

Given that the middle class make up 40% of the population, there will be a huge portion of the population who will end up growing old either with not enough money to have a decent retirement or not poor enough to be entitled to state care.

How then do these people cope? There is the old Asian tradition of living off your offspring but even that is wearing thin. The other is to find an affordable retirement home, but there is no guarantee that they will offer the right kind of care and services.

Do our nursing homes provide adequate care? Find out on page 10 + 12 of The Heat.


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