A coordinated strategy is needed for our ageing city

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 July, 2015, 2:03am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 July, 2015, 2:03am

Who does not want to age with dignity? For an affluent society like Hong Kong, a secured and healthy living up to old age needs not be a distant dream. But the reality is that many people are still struggling to make ends meet, let alone saving up for a decent post-retirement living. This is not helped when the government is not doing enough to help those who cannot stand on their feet. A more comprehensive strategy is called for.

The issues brought by an ageing society have been thoroughly examined by this newspaper in a series of in-depth reports this week. From subvention and monitoring for nursing homes to professional workers' manpower shortage; from challenges arising from longer life expectancy to doing business in a grey-hair economy, there is gloom and silver lining.

The question is how to cope with the burden while seizing the opportunity. This requires high-level policy coordination and cross-sector cooperation. Unfortunately, both are lacking at the moment. The government has certainly spared no efforts to amplify the ageing population crisis. But it has not achieved much when it comes to mitigating the impact. Advisers and bureaucrats tasked to study the city's population policy and elderly welfare are still tip-toeing around the problems. A more pro-active approach in tackling the challenges is needed.

If a university study on the quality of life index for senior citizens is any reference, Hong Kong ranks 24 out of 97 places. But we were trailing far behind when it comes to elderly poverty and psychological well-being. The findings are reminders that the situation is not as rosy as it appears.

With one in three in our population to be aged 65 or above by 2041, coordinated efforts are needed to prepare the community for the challenge. Given Hong Kong is a wealthy and caring society, we can afford to do more for our elderly citizens. As long as there is a well thought out strategy, ageing with dignity can be an achievable goal.