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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, April 3: The percentage of Sarawak’s population aged 65 years and above is 7.3 per cent of the state’s 2.8 million people, according to the Malaysia Statistics Department.
The United Nations (UN) projected that Malaysia would be an aged country when 15 per cent of its total population become senior citizens (60 years and above) by 2030.
Highlighting this, Minister of Welfare, Community Well-Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, thus, called on all Sarawakians to plan and prepare early for retirement.
“All of us will get old and we will face all kinds of issues and challenges. Among them are financial or economy, health in both physical and emotional, social, family institution, as well as transportation and environment.
“As such, we need to start making preparations and plannings at a young age to lead a healthy and sustainable life after retirement,” she advised at the Art and Music Therapy for the Elderly and the Destitute programme held at a hotel here today.
She highlighted the realities of ageing, where an individual would encounter all kind of problems, particularly health-wise, including coping with non-communicable diseases (NCD), loneliness, depression, hearing and vision loss as well as declining cognitive abilities, including memory and concentration.
Considering the needs of an ageing society in the future, Fatimah said that a National Policy for the Elderly and Action Plan for the Elderly have been approved in 2011, demonstrating the commitment of the government to ensure senior citizens can be functional as long as possible to lead an independent and dignified life in their golden years.
“That’s why the state government set up Rumah Seri Kenangan (RSK) as one of the support systems to protect and ensure the well being and quality of life of the poor elderly are being taken care of,” she said.
“There are also the Senior Citizen Activity Centre (PAWE) and Senior Citizen Service Centre (PPWE). These facilities help to ensure our elderly to be socially and physically active, have engagement in the community and most important to be happy in their daily life.”
Senior citizens, Fatimah emphasised, should be accorded a rightful place in the family as well as in the society.
“Let’s help and support our senior citizens to age gracefully and healthily. We want them to be healthy, active, positive and to be happy in their golden years,” she urged.
Meanwhile, she informed that the Welfare Department had channelled a total of RM14.9 million of monthly elderly assistance fund to 21,881 recipients for January to February this year. The eligible recipients each get RM350 financial assistance.
Acting Welfare Department director Joni Nuruddin, IPG Tun Abdul Razak Campus counsellor Dr Christie Augustine and Sarawak Gerontology and Geriatrics Society president Dennis Tan were among those present. — DayakDaily