Defining age

  • Business
  • Saturday, 04 Sep 2010

AS the country ages, some terms and phrases will come to the forefront of our consciousness as we deal with the implications. Here are a few that we ought to know:

Active ageing

The process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. It applies to both individuals and population groups. Active ageing allows people to realise their potential for physical, social, and mental well-being throughout the life course and to participate in society, while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they need.

The word “active” refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs, not just the ability to be physically active or to participate in the labour force. Older people who retire from work, ill or live with disabilities can remain active contributors to their families, peers, communities and nations. Active ageing aims to extend healthy life expectancy and quality of life for all people as they age.

Source: World Health Organisation (WHO)


Something that is age-friendly supports active ageing. Therefore, an age-friendly city, according to WHO, is “an inclusive and accessible urban environment that promotes active ageing”.

Ageing in place

Also known as age in place, this is basically the ability to continue living in your home as long as you can, with the same level of comfort. Put in another way, it means not having to relocate because your home is no longer suitable to your needs in your old age. This may require making changes to the home. In the United States, for example, more and more people modify their homes to make them more user-friendly as they age, instead of selling their homes and moving into retirement villages or assisted-living quarters.

Dependency burden

This is the ratio of dependent young and old to the population of working age. A country’s dependency burden rises when its proportion of older people increases. A high ratio means the economy bears a greater burden in supporting the ageing population.

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