The phenomenon of an aging society has been studied in the scientific literature and this field of study is known as gerontology.
Gerontology studies the physical, mental, social and societal aspects of aging and the consequences of these factors. However, the study of gerontology is influenced by societal feelings about older people that are complex, inconsistent, and often misunderstood, ranging from altruism to hostility.
Broadly speaking, research on ‘aging’ comes from three perspectives: its legal and social ramifications, biological decline and senescence, and the meaning of singular and fragile human lives as they evolve and are lived through time.
These distinct conceptions of aging are often intertwined and confused, with confusing and sometimes dehumanizing effects.
The aging of the population should be seen as a reasonable consequence of the development and progress of society. There’s no denying that an aging population could pose many obstacles and raise concerns about health care and pension systems, the well-being of older people and future economic growth.
In less than twenty years, there will be three elderly people for every twenty Malaysians, and the number of Malaysians over the age of 65 is expected to triple from two million today to over six million by 2040. Similarly, aging of the Chinese population poses a significant threat to its future.
According to projections, the number of people over 60 will increase from 17.4% in 2020 to 30% in 2040, and the proportion of retirees compared to people of working age will increase from 17% in 2020 to 53% in 2060.
In order to build a political structure that responds effectively to the phenomenon of ageing, it is essential to examine how to manage the aging of the population critically and effectively.
Western civilizations have faced the challenges of aging earlier than Eastern civilizations and have conducted substantial research on aging policies. A series of policy research reports on population aging issues and policy reform suggestions have been published. Some scholars have looked at the guiding principles of aging policies from a policy formulation perspective. Other scholars have focused on the historical pattern of aging policy changes to explain policy patterns and dynamics over time.
The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) and agencies within the KPWKM, such as the Department of Social Welfare, in response to the problems of the aging population, have provided various services to the elderly . Among the services offered are financial aid, activity centers for seniors and the “We Care” program for seniors.
These initiatives demonstrate the government’s commitment to fostering independent seniors with a strong sense of self-esteem, dignity and respect by maximizing their personal potential through active, positive, productive and age-friendly lifestyles. elders.
Similarly, China has issued a guideline for the implementation of its national policy aimed at managing population aging and increasing older people’s sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. The guideline, issued jointly by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, outlines a variety of measures to meet the needs of the elderly in a coordinated manner while addressing the issue of the aging population through efforts Party handsets. , government and society. The guideline aims to empower people by providing age-friendly services and supportive environments that improve the quality of life of older people.
The studies on gerontology and the politics of aging are noteworthy. However, studies of aging society can be more humanistic by addressing the following questions: First, how can studies of aging most effectively create a conceptual vocabulary and framing that enables older people to live respectful and dignified? Second, what is “good” old age?
Third, how can we ensure that weak or elderly people in great need of support (for example, due to dementia) live with respect and dignity?
Humanistic value includes treating older people as equals in a shared human dilemma. Humanistic gerontology is crucial to the humanities because it focuses on concerns about the human condition. Older people need meaningful responses to everyday experiences and these can come from human situations that incorporate social, political and ethical elements. The humanistic value encompasses human interactions and their shared philosophy in which mutual “support groups” are prime examples of how people in modern society strive to provide informed support to each other through conversations.
Humanistic value should also include other sources of appreciation of human experiences such as the arts, which are sources of unexpected originality and experience that cannot be quantified. Whether the needs of seniors are assessed individually or collectively, multidimensional coordination and integration of resources is required. For example, aging policy should not only respond to older people’s demand for long-term care services, but also their need for social participation.
Managing an aging society should not be the duty of a single institution, such as the government or public entity following the emergence of the welfare state, but also non-governmental organizations and the non-aging public. in general. Perhaps more programs or projects aimed at valuing the elderly, such as the “Caring for the Elderly Programme” of the non-profit organization Tzu Chi, Malaysia, or “City-Enterprise Joint (Public Private Partnership) Elderly Care Special Action” of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China, should involve greater participation from more parties to foster more positive and healthy attitudes towards an aging society.
By adopting a holistic approach that prioritizes humanistic values, the concerns facing an aging society can be addressed accordingly.
Dr. Koon Vui Yee is a senior lecturer at Sunway University.
The opinions expressed here are entirely those of the author.
The SEARCH Scholar Series is a social accountability program jointly organized by the Southeast Asian Humanities Research Center (SEARCH) and Center for Business and Policy Research, Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), and co-organized by the Association of Belt and Road Malaysia.