MALAYSIA is undergoing significant demographic changes, particularly an increase in the number of elderly people.

According to the Statistics Department and the Ministry of Health, Malaysia will be an ageing country by 2030.

The World Health Organization reports a similar global trend: currently one billion people worldwide are aged 60 or over.

This number is expected to rise to 1.4 billion by 2030, representing one-sixth of the world’s population, and to 2.1 billion by 2050.

In addition, the number of people aged 80 and over is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050 to 426 million people.

As the elderly population grows, issues related to inactive seniors who struggle to care for themselves and cannot afford medical treatments are increasingly in the news.

The elderly play a crucial role in passing on the core values ​​of life to younger generations, emphasizing the importance of supporting them. Therefore, it is essential to address the needs of the elderly in Malaysia within our families and at a broader societal level. This support underscores the crucial role of caregivers.

Caregivers are essential in maintaining the health, independence, and overall quality of life of seniors. They provide a range of services, including medical, dental, and nursing care, personal care, companionship, emotional support, and assistance with chores, cooking, shopping, and transportation.

Caregivers are often the primary link to the outside world for older adults, especially those who are immobile or chronically ill. Their role is vital for patients suffering from conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and kidney failure.

Caring is physically and emotionally demanding. Caregivers often sacrifice their time and well-being to care for the needs of older adults, performing tasks such as lifting, moving, feeding, and managing medical equipment.

The stress, anxiety and depression that come with caregiving can take a toll on their mental health. Isolation and loneliness are common, exacerbated by the lack of free time.

Financially, many caregivers reduce their hours or leave the workforce altogether, resulting in a loss of income and benefits.

In addition, the costs of medical equipment, home modifications, and other care-related expenses can be significant.

Support for caregivers can improve the quality of life for both themselves and the elderly they care for. Programs, subsidies, and other forms of assistance can improve the physical and mental health of caregivers, reduce stress, and improve their standard of living.

Well-supported caregivers are better equipped to provide high-quality care, which in turn reduces mortality rates among older adults. Regular care and interaction from caregivers contributes to the mental and physical well-being of older adults.

Government intervention is crucial to improving the quality of life for seniors. Ensuring access to better health care, adequate housing and social services can make a big difference.

Comprehensive health checks, proper treatment and preventive care are essential for maintaining the health of older adults.

Housing should be adapted to their needs, with facilities such as handrails, wheelchair ramps and emergency alarms.

Community services, such as community centers and programs, provide opportunities for socialization, mental stimulation, and physical activity, thereby improving their quality of life.

Caregiving is a demanding and essential task that requires considerable effort, resources, and energy. Long-term, sustainable, and holistic care for seniors can be achieved through government subsidies and consistent caregiver training programs.

Scholarships and grants can ease the financial burden on caregivers, while educational interventions provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge.

Ultimately, support from all stakeholders, including government, healthcare providers, and the community, is critical to meeting the needs of an aging population and improving the quality of life of seniors.

Increasing the capacity of elderly care facilities, which are better equipped to deal with physical and mental health conditions, is also essential to this effort.

The writer, with disability, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Accounting and Finance, Uniten Business School, Universiti Tenaga Nasional. Comments: [email protected]