Monday April 15, 2013
THE Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society (MHAS) is a non-profit organisation that strives to educate healthcare professionals and members of the public on healthy ageing issues.
Professor Nathan Vytialingam, one of the pioneers of the organisation back in 2002, says there is widespread misconception about ageing: “Most people think ageing starts when you’re 60 years old or so. But healthy ageing isn’t just about the elderly. People age gracefully from young. We believe ageing happens from womb to tomb.”
There are an estimated 800 registered members, aged 20 to 80, in MHAS.
Prof Nathan points out that many people fail to realise that there is more to ageing than just a decline in physical health. The emotional, spiritual, sexual, social, financial and legal aspects are often overlooked. As such, MHAS hopes to create awareness of the importance of ageing well in each of these aspects.
In line with its objective, MHAS spearheaded the first ever global conference on healthy ageing in March last year, in partnership with the World Health Organisation. Held in Kuala Lumpur, the 1st World Congress On Healthy Ageing addressed a wide range of topics which included cardiovascular health, injury and fall prevention, depression, loneliness, spirituality and ageing, health and legislative policies, and healthy ageing in children and teenagers.
Caring For The Elderly is another initiative by MHAS to equip people with basic skills on taking care of their aged parents.
“We equip people with practical knowledge on how to care for the elderly – simple things like the type of chair they should sit on, moving their parents from the bed to the chair and vice versa, and how and when to change diapers for those with urinary incontinence,” Prof Nathan shares. The programme, first launched in 2009, has met with overwhelming response.
MHAS charges a minimum fee for its programmes, relying on corporate sponsorships and fundraisers to cover the bulk of the cost.