Ageing society

Freewheeling: senior citizens in Hong Kong go for a ride on 60m city landmark

The 29 single or mostly stay-at-home elderly residents went for a spin on the observation wheel at the Central waterfront, helped by a group of volunteers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 8:40pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 11:07pm

A group of senior citizens were taken for a ride on Saturday – but it was all for a worthy cause.

The 29 single or mostly stay-at-home residents – the eldest among them is set to celebrate her 100th birthday in two months – went for a free ride on the observation wheel at Hong Kong’s Central waterfront, accompanied by a group of young volunteers.

Calvin Kwok Ho-king, founder of non-profit group Eastern District Caring Young Leaders Association, which organised the ride on Saturday morning, said the aim was to engage young people in serving the elderly and in turn they would learn from their seniors and prepare themselves for retirement.

“We want young people to know the problems facing Hong Kong’s elderly today such as welfare, medical and family issues,” Kwok said. “We want them to be more aware of these issues and prepare from now to prevent getting themselves into these situations in the future.”

Kwok, 38, said that a Quarry Bay-based elderly centre selected the 29 senior citizens, who were either single or rarely left home. Eight volunteers, aged between 23 and 38, helped out, he said, and that

it was the organisation’s first event since it was set up earlier this month.

He said about 200 people were queuing for a ride at the time.

Government figures show that some 150,000 elderly people in Hong Kong were living alone last year, accounting for 10 per cent of the city’s population aged 65 or above.

The proportion of the elderly population is projected to increase from 15 per cent in 2014 to 28 per cent by 2034, raising concerns about an ageing society.

The 60-metre-high observation wheel reopened on December 20, with rides costing HK$20 (US$2.56) per person, compared with HK$100 previously.

Children under the age of three can ride for free while the elderly pay half price.