Ageing in the Asia-Pacific region : the impact of the ageing and development report

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Hong Kong Journal of Gerontology = 香港老年學報, ISSN: 1608-2346, Vol: 13, Issue: 2, Page: 44-55

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PHILLIPS, David Rosser
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The Ageing and Development Report (HelpAge International, 1999) focuses on the manifold complex social and economic issues surrounding population ageing for the developing world. This paper reviews the policy and other implications of the Report for the Asia-Pacific region, demographically the most rapidly ageing region, which has many similarities but also important differences with other developing regions. The Report stresses that population ageing should be considered a huge success following great social and economic advances. It certainly presents challenges but it should not be regarded as a crisis. In much of the region, there is still time, if limited, to plan for the future. Although older persons have been integral to the development and modernization processes, for the past fifty years, they have been almost invisible virtually everywhere in international development policy and practice. Today, in spite of their personal contributions to development, many older persons face risks of poverty, marginalization and poor services. This was less serious when the traditional Asian family-based models of care delivered adequate support. Now, significant social changes should be anticipated, stemming from smaller families, limited accommodation and changing attitudes amongst both young and old citizens. These combine to make it unwise to assume that the family in Asia will be willing or able to continue to deliver sufficient care far into this century. It will also be a mistake to rely excessively on approaches to health and welfare evolved in the West and especially those based primarily on insurance cover. Integrated primary health care and welfare systems suitable for ageing in the community but perhaps without extensive immediate family support are essential. New Asian models of care and provision, integrating older people into the community and providing formal support must be developed in the near future.

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