Monday, October 1, 2012


October 1 marks United Nations' International Day of the Older Persons. The day is celebrated with a host of activities and special events for older  people. However, in Malaysia the day passes just like any other day. Not many people, including older folks , even know about it.

Since 2008, I have been posting an article every year to mark this auspicious day. This year, however, I shall just share this slideshow below from HelpAge International. I am also re-posting an extract from the 2008 article which is still relevant today.

HelpAge International has just launched the report "Ageing in the 21st Century: A Celebration and a Challenge". You can click here to download the report.

(Below: Extract edited and re-posted from 2008 Seniorsaloud article)

Did you know that the United Nations designated 1 October as the International Day of Older Persons? I bet the day came and went like any other day for most senior citizens – uneventful and forgettable. The local media did not deem the day important enough to devote some space to it in their columns. Just goes to show how little attention is paid to this fast-growing segment of society.

Today, world-wide, there are around 600 million persons aged 60 years and over; this total will double by 2025 and will reach virtually two billion by 2050 - the vast majority of them in the developing world.
Here's my wish list for older persons:

1. Elderly-friendly traffic lights where the green light for pedestrians stays on a little longer to enable older (and slower) persons to cross busy roads safely.

2. More benches at shopping malls where the elderly can rest their tired feet. KLCC is the least shopper-friendly in this aspect.

3. Bigger print on price tags and food labels - the better to see if the product is safe for consumption!

4. Priority counters / queues for senior citizens at banks, cashiers, taxi stands, ticket counters.

5. Wider aisles in supermarkets.

6. Non-slip floors, non-trip pathways and steps in public buildings.

7. Club house cum community centre with full facilities for senior citizens. By the way, there's one nearing completion in Ampang.

8. Restaurants that offer elderly-friendly menus. Think easily digestible, healthy food that have less salt, less sugar, and less fat.

9. Public toilets and urinals with hand rails. Currently these are meant only for the disabled in wheelchairs.

10. Mobile phones with large letters and numbers for easy dialing, and light enough for the pocket.

But over and above all this...

  • Remove age discrimination, especially in employment.
  • Enable senior citizens to contribute their experience.
  • Help end elder abuse.
  • Honour and respect older people so they can age with dignity.

Postscript: Oct 1, 2020
Since this article was written eight years ago, I am delighted to say that this special day for older persons is now celebrated with plenty of events and activities for this demographics, thanks to efforts made not only by SeniorsAloud but also by MyAgeing, Persatuan GeM, U3A, Urbanice Malaysia, Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society and all the NGOs working towards promoting active and healthy living for our senior citizens. It is also a day to remind ourselves that more still needs to be done to help the elderly who are in need of life's basic necessities and support.


Winston said...

Lily, I would like to comment on some of the points raised in your article:

1. In this country, if you are old and slow, it's better that you stay at home.
2. I think that the aim of all shopping centers is to let shoppers, including the old, rest as little as possible!
The more their visitors sit, the less they'll end up buying!!
3. Not only the price tags and labels are hard to decipher, even the prices printed on the receipt are blur, blur!!
7. Seems like more and more open spaces have been co-opted by developers to build and build!
So, forget such amenities.
10. To this I must add - light enough for the wallet!!
As for employment for able- bodied senior citizens, how about enabling them to work at home, especially those who are computer and Internet literate?
Conclusion: wishing thinking!!!

BEN said...


1. My wish is for the average Joe or Jane Senior citizen and their care giver (if any) to speak up vehemently and highlight the difficulties they have to face during their so called golden years so that the powers-that-be can come up with a more equitable and affirmative National Policy for the aged.

Care givers include aged children who also have to look after their more aged parents and also their own family and careers. Then there is the ever increasing number of elderly living alone.

At the moment from what I can perceive most of its plans and actions seem to be focused on the immediate needs of the poor, homeless and destitute.

With the welfare of more than 2.2 elderly Malaysians above 60 (2010 Census) under the purview of the ministry concerned there should also be long term initiatives and programmes to assist the average senior citizens who make up the bulk of the 2.2 million senior citizens - not those crumbs hand outs which some of our main stream media have got the cheek to front-page and blaze their headlines - FOR THE 60 AND ABOVE A 50% DISCOUNT PASSPORT PROCESSING FEE!!!!!!!! I can't help but feel very insulted.

2. My 2nd wish is for the senior citizens to come together to empower themselves and use whatever 'clouts' they may have to

> assert their rights and effect mindset changes of society and govt that - WHAT EVER POLICY THEY PUT IN PLACE WILL TOO AFFECT AND IMPACT THEM!!!!

> determine for themselves the fulfilled lives they want to lead

They too will also BENEFIT (or SUFFER?) from whatever policy and initiatives they put in place.

Quite a paradox isn't it?? SELF SERVING?? If at all there is a more self serving policy this is it!

It benefits every one except the rich and affluent who probably have squirreled away millions in their egg nest (if they have not done so).

BEN said...

Once again I call upon all Seniors and/or those who still have to care for their parents or grandparents to SPEAK UP. Especially in this wonderful blog.

Let the number speaks. Don't let ours be the few lone voices here.

From the above perspective there is a dire need to TRANSFORM OR CHANGE.

For we are the products of some bad policies in the past. You can ask yourselves. The list is endless.

Even current initiatives in the GTP or ETP have negative impacts on our well beings including impoverishment.

There are bold and innovative long term sustainable initiatives or programmes that only the Govt have the resources and capacity to undertake, not the NGOs if they have the political will