Embracing the silver lining of elderly care


RECENTLY, the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) called for the adoption of a universal design for the ageing society in Malaysia. This was in line with the World Bank’s report in November last year highlighting that only 45.2% of persons aged 55 to 64 in Malaysia were employed.

Compared to upper-middle and high-income countries, this is low. According to the World Bank, this reflects the relatively low minimum retirement age as well as low EPF (Employees Provident Fund) minimum withdrawal age in Malaysia.

The report also highlighted that the employment rate of those aged 55 to 64 is particularly low for women.

Many similarities exist between Malaysia and Denmark in the issue of aged care. With an ageing population and increased life expectancy, Denmark has adopted a dynamic system based on life expectancy that “calculates” the retirement age to be at “minus 14 years” of life expectancy age.

A balanced approach recognises that ageing can actually offer promising “silver lining” opportunities.

It is a choice to see an ageing population as a driver for economic growth with job opportunities emerging from various needs in the elderly care sector.

Welfare improvements for older persons can also generate positive externalities for the whole society, which in turn can promote social cohesion.

Denmark’s tradition of publicly-funded care for elderly citizens dates back to the welfare state in the 1930s. Over decades, the aim has been for the elderly to maintain their independence and stay in their own houses for as long as possible, supplemented by nursing homes and other care facilities.

Efforts supported by assisted-living technologies and other innovative solutions bring a number of benefits to both the elderly and their caregivers.

New-assisted living technology plays an important role in Denmark’s elderly care, providing a range of solutions that helps improve quality of life for the elderly while also supporting healthcare professionals in creating an efficient, high-quality framework for care.

This is made possible through a strong partnership between Danish municipalities and the private sector, including the Centre of Assistive Technology, which has promoted Danish competencies in the elderly care sector.

Data-driven solutions often assist municipalities in detecting the need for preventive efforts, identifying citizens with special challenges or reacting faster in cases of emergency.

Specific technologies range from wearable devices that are simple and easy to use to complex digital platforms that involve the collection of large amounts of data.

In Malaysia, there is also an increased focus on labour shortage in the elderly care sector.

In Denmark, the experience has been to harness innovative technologies that can improve the working environment for healthcare professionals while maintaining a high level of care.

To tackle labour shortage issues, the Danish care sector is implementing a number of technologies to support the daily interaction between the elderly and healthcare professionals.

Lifelong learning and development is key in enhancing the employability and contribution of the elderly to the economy and society. The aim is to secure productive, inclusive and healthy ageing and improve better income security.

In short, ageing remains a challenge but is also an opportunity.

KIRSTEN ROSENVOLD GEELAN

Ambassador of Denmark to Malaysia

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