Confronting the hurdles of aging gracefully

MOHD AWANG IDRIS
06 Jan 2024 10:00am
Pix for illustration purpose only: Photo by 123RF
Pix for illustration purpose only: Photo by 123RF
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AS we welcome the new year, it's a reminder that time keeps moving forward, and with it, the inevitable process of aging.

Yet, as numerous studies suggest, let's find joy in the knowledge that happiness is often linked to a longer life.

Consider Jeanne Louise Calment, born in 1875 in Arles, France, who lived to the remarkable age of 122 before passing away in 1997.

Similarly, Kane Tanaka, a Japanese woman, reached the age of 119 before her passing in 2022.

Their stories raise questions about the unique experiences of those who witness the arrival of each new year, especially when many loved ones have departed.

In Malaysia, there are lesser-known individuals who have lived to a ripe old age, leaving an impact on their communities.

Tok Guru Haji Chik Ahmad, born in 1898 in Kodiang, Kedah, and passing away in 2002, was a renowned scholar of jurisprudence devoted to religion.

His long life served as a source of enlightenment for many.

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Despite the celebration of long lives, the reality in today's world introduces uncertainties for the elderly.

With the rising cost of living, particularly in urban areas, elderly individuals face financial challenges, including healthcare expenses.

In 2047, it is projected that the number of people aged 60 and above will surpass those aged 16 and under, posing economic and social challenges globally.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 80 per cent of this aging population resides in developing countries, where poverty becomes a significant obstacle.

Returning to work might be a solution, but it is complicated by a competitive job market and the need to acquire new skills in a technologically advancing world.

Developed countries like Japan exemplify the concept of an aging society where individuals aged 65 and above continue to work to sustain themselves.

The implications of an aging population necessitate governmental consideration in policy-making, covering aspects such as welfare, healthcare, public transport, and more.

As we move forward, policymakers must factor in the needs of the elderly, recognising that today's working-age individuals will inevitably become seniors in the future.

Adequate preparation, including financial planning, must be made to support this aging demographic.

Additionally, policies should ensure that rejoining the workforce does not hinder opportunities for the younger generation.

In wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2024, may it be a year filled with prosperity, good health, and the wisdom to face the challenges and opportunities that come with the passage of time.

May we all live long and be blessed with fulfilling lives.