NST Leader: Planning decades ahead for the elderly

Will we agree to do away with the unflattering term of “warga mas” (senior citizens)? Former chairman of Media Prima Bhd Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar 65, and his friend Chan Choon Wah, 83, keep fit by going for early morning walks and jogs.

FAILING to plan is planning to fail — a Benjamin Franklin quote, often mouthed by financial and risk managers to drive home the importance of income and assets planning for the future.

Many may view it as an insurance agent’s sales pitch, but it’s a fact of life. Before a child is even born parents are already planning — for the day he is ushered into this world to the day he enters school.

Whether things go as planned is irrelevant; the fact that even the best laid plans can go wrong only underscores the importance of planning.

The baby whose arrival was planned by the parents will grow into an adult and he must plan what will happen to him as he grows older.

In the blink of an eye, the tables are turned, and the adult must plan to care for his parents, while also planning the lives of his own children.

The future has no brakes; the parents die and their place in the list of the elderly is taken up by the “baby” that they doted upon.

The cycle of life means the baby who once could not change his own diapers must prepare for the day when he, too, will need adult diapers, and turn to his children to care for him.

Our mortality is not the most pleasant of things to talk about, but we must prepare for it. Likewise, the government must do the same.

Government policies and financial mechanisms relating to property, contributory pensions, personal savings and infrastructure must be in place at the onset of the population ageing process to help workers accumulate assets.

T0 make such plans future-proof is thinking decades ahead instead of knee-jerk reactions.

The government, hence, should develop an ageing-friendly healthcare system that focuses on prevention and less on costly hospital care.

A fast-growing elderly population will strain the healthcare system. A perspective of how fast our elderly population is growing — next year there will be an estimated 3.5 million Malaysians aged 65 and above; by 2040 it will be 6.3 million.

If that seems far off — in 1997, the number of Japan’s elderly surpassed the number of children; 17 years later adult diapers outsold baby diapers.

While we deal with having to cater for the millions of elderly citizens, other aspects of the economy will evolve, such as living cost, which will increase.

Whatever social safety measures we have for the elderly will not be sufficient in the future.

We should, therefore, look at alternative means of making the economy more conducive for their survival, including allowing the healthy and experienced senior citizens to work.

In Japan, in 2017, 28.1 per cent or 37.57 million of the population were aged 65 and above, but they formed over 12 per cent of Japan’s workforce.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/leaders/2019/04/480821/nst-leader-planning-decades-ahead-elderly

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