Congress on holistic ageing

theSun – Friday 24th February, 2012

WEcannot run away from it: the process of ageing is part of the cycle of life. The sensible one would learn to be at peace with this reality and find a way to age gracefully!

No doubt ageing is one of the major challenges for the world. The consequences of the demographic transition have a tremendous impact on our lives-on economy, health, social development, and welfare of societies. Malaysia is experiencing a rapid increase in the proportion and absolute number of older persons. Consequently, there is a need to enhance our knowledge about the promotion of good health for a better quality of life in our older years.

Healthy ageing fostered by systematically planned health promotion efforts, was mentioned as early as 1998 in the World Health Organisation (WHO) policy, “Health for All n the 21st Century”. Active ageing (according to the European Commission) includes life-long learning, working longer, retiring later, and more gradually, being active after retirement, and engaging in capacity-enhancing and health-sustaining activities. This is a holistic approach mechanism.

The Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society (MHAS) is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to imparting knowledge and education to healthcare professionals and members of the public on numerous healthy ageing issues. Together with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health, MHAS has taken on the task of organising the First World Congress on Healthy Ageing 2012 with the theme, Evolution: Holistic Ageing in an Age of Change.

The congress to be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, serves to bring together both conventional medicine and traditional or complementary medicine approaches to the prevention, promotion and management of healthy ageing. It will showcase the latest medical research and healthy ageing protocols.

The global forum, featuring internationally renowned experts, focuses on healthy ageing issues in the millennium. The speakers include WHO director of ageing and life course, Dr John Beard; Australian National Ageing Research Institute director Prof David Ames; and Prof Makoto Suzuki who pioneered the well-known Okinawan Centenerian study.

According to MHAS, there is “an unmet need in the global community in terms of skills and services that can be provided to our older citizens by all healthcare personnel and the population at large”. Whichever way we describe the process of ageing well, principles that promote healthy ageing in a culturally diverse society must stay in the foreground of community consciousness, MHAS says, adding that the congress hopes to fulfill this objective.

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