Findings from the 2020 Asia Pacific Healthy Aging Survey revealed that Malaysians have a clear vision of what healthy ageing means to them.
More than four in 10 local respondents (44%) had the confidence to age healthily, compared to 28% of the respondents overall.
The survey, done by international nutrition company Herbalife Nutrition, polled equal numbers of Generation Z (aged 18-23 years), Millennials (24-39 years), Generation X (40-55 years) and Boomers+ (55 years and above) in 11 countries, namely, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
When asked to define healthy ageing, Malaysians agreed that it is about not suffering from any chronic or acute illness (62%), being mentally active and sharp (59%), not being a burden to their family as they age (52%), living a free and independent life (51%) and being physically active (49%).
The top three worries related to ageing were:
- Falling ill due to lower immunity (36%)
- Change of appearance due to visible signs of ageing (24%)
- Becoming less independent as the body becomes weaker (10%)
Regarding the top potential effects they would experience as they grow older:
- 57% believed that they would experience a decrease in mental acuity
- 43% believed that they would most likely suffer from chronic or acute illnesses or ailments
- 38% believed that they would participate in fewer physical activities and be physically weaker as they grow older.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Malaysians believe that discussions on how to age healthily should begin between the ages of 30 and 49.
The most common reason given for postponing discussions about ageing was that they were still young, followed by the prioritisation of their current health and lifestyle.
For those already concerned about ageing, 64% started to think about the issue between the ages of 30 and 59.
Bone- and joint-related issues topped the list of their specific health concerns, followed by eye-related issues and heart-related problems.
In fact, nearly nine in 10 of the Malaysian respondents (88%) had already taken steps to age healthily. These include:
- Making better nutrition choices (79%)
- Engaging in more regular physical activities (56%)
- Engaging in mentally-stimulating activities or hobbies (54%)
- Going for more regular health check-ups (50%), and
- Taking supplements that promote healthy ageing (48%).
Unsurprisingly, the Boomer+ group had the largest proportion of respondents (93%) who have taken steps towards healthy ageing.
Around 87% of their Generation X, Millennial and Generation Z counterparts respectively have done the same.
Herbalife Nutrition Malaysia general manager and director Steven Chin noted that: “According to the Department of Statistics, the country is expected to become an ageing society by 2030.
“With the estimation that 7.2% of the population will be 65 and older by next year, healthy ageing should be addressed and articulated to protect the elderly by implementing preventive public health measures, such as promoting a healthy lifestyle.
“Having this in mind, we should deepen our awareness about the need to take steps towards healthy ageing early on in life.”
He added: “While growing older is inevitable, active steps can be taken to help us age healthily.
“Simply by having the right nutritional habits, accompanied by regular physical activities, we are on the right track for healthy ageing.”