Old is gold, says WHO

Call to cultivate the elderly who have much to give to the society

KUALA LUMPUR: The elderly are actually a fantastic resource who should be cultivated so they can keep contributing back to society, said the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is also best not to stereotype the elderly as a burden or view growing old in a negative light, because the world’s population is growing older very fast.The number of people over 60 was expected to hit two billion by 2050, said the organisation’s ageing and life course director Dr John Beard.

“Some advantages the elderly have over the young are their better sense of well-being and experience and wisdom gathered throughout their lives.

“Healthy ageing is one of the major challenges of the world. I’m very pleased that Malaysia has taken the lead as this has been a neglected area,” he said at a press conference here during the first World Congress on Healthy Ageing, which was initiated and hosted by Malaysia.

Health matters: Rosmah posing with children after opening the health congress at KLCC. Also present are Assoc Prof Nathan (second from left), Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin (left) and Dr Beard (third from left).

 

The second world congress will be held in South Africa in 2015. Dr Beard called for the creation of a physical and social environ-ment that was conducive to im-prove the elderly’s quality of life, including affordable and easy access to healthcare.

In her keynote address, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor said promoting healthy ageing from an early age was vital in creating disciplined and healthy individuals in their later years.

She added that growing old in today’s society was far more challenging if it was not complemented with good health. Malaysia, said Rosmah, was expected to have more middle-aged adults and elderly people in the next 20 years, and was predicted to attain Ageing Nation Status by 2035.

Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society president and congress organising chairman Associate Professor Nathan Vytialingam said there was an urgent need to solve an imminent crisis of elderly care worldwide.

“We need to enhance our knowledge about the promotion of good health amongst the young and older people for a better quality of life later,” he said, adding that Malaysians were becoming more aware of their health now.

Themed “Evolution: Holistic Ageing in an Age of Change,” the four-day conference features lectures, research and development and innovation presented by an international panel of experts from fields including medical, legal, financial and environment.

The congress also features sessions on complementary therapy including silat, meditation, herbal medicine and yoga.

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