Right now I see four family relatives on their respective beds at home. They are the elderly, down with lingering illness and indicating slowness or more exacting a no quick solution to recovery. This is a case close at hand. Others in the peripherals must be more adding to the current unseen or unconcerned situations among us. I am sure each one of us would have elderly relatives or neighbors convalescing at home by virtue of their age group over all sorts of illness. The huge question is "who take care of them or more clinically who 'nurse' them? Your answer will be as good as mine. Excepting for the wives or the husbands, if they are still strong and able, the patients would be hard pressed to find comforting 'nurse' maids.
I am no younger too having reached the age group that is accorded the elderly sector. A casual glance at yesterday's STAR newspaper entitled "Demand for Senior Housing on the Rise" prompted this article. It is noted that there is a change in the demographic area of the world's population. From the 'historical high birth rates and high death rates' there is now a corresponding new trend according to the UN Department of Economics and Social Affairs: One out of 10 people is now above 60 years old or older. Continuing trends would mean that by 2050 1 out of 5 will be above 60 or older. By 2150 the figure would read 1 out of 3. The eldest old would mean a rapid expanding segment of the elderly population.
Many of us would be in that sector even now. The question is "how could we cope with the situation?' or " Are we able to face the possibilities of 'ageing in place' without the full amenities such as proper meals, hospital, nursing homes and on site care? Could the 'elderly' survived in their current homes devoid of their grown up sons and daughter plus in-laws too who are no more neighbor friendly now but staying 100 kilometers or more from their former homes? Works or choice of jobs placed them away from their kampong. Not surprisingly, many are working even overseas, therefore several flight hours away. Therefore the comforts of filial piety, as traditionally expected by the elders have become a dream rather than expected norms. Close to it maybe the annual 'balik kampong'.
Is our government ready or realizing the current development? Is our "Yang Berhormat" in keeping with these needs that has seen other developed countries marching forward to address the pertinent issues?
Look carefully around you. Observe the sick and the elderly at the hospitals and the treatment they are receiving. There are many private hospitals too but how many can afford a RM300.00 bed a day plus medical expanse that easily multiply to thousand ringgit quite hurriedly? The needy, the elderly in most cases would not be able to meet such demand. It is sad that that the situation has been allowed to exist without check. Without medical attention unless you can afford to pay, where could the elderly ills go? No other, than their own homes and lingering as I have seen with only the sympathy of neighbors, friends and relatives.
Malaysia being a multiracial country has to look at the problem with full concerned of the community, religious bodies plus all the relevant ministries. Going for housing specific to realizing the needs of the elders of Malays, Chinese, Tamils etc need concerted efforts from developers as well. Elderly age homes or community living with the comforts for the elders have to be planned in accordance to each community needs.
Hoping this awareness strikes home. May we look forward to special housing for the elders.So too greater medical care and services greatly desired from a 'prehatin' or caring government.Another pressing question would be "Which one now 'child care' or 'elder care'? realizing the trend in population development.