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Future Proofing Elder Care in Asia

How Asia can reinvent care for elderly populations

By AQMEN365 staff

Today, Asian countries, on average, are experiencing population ageing at an unprecedented rate, with a significant percentage of the population being 65 years or older. Several factors have contributed to it, such as advances in healthcare and people opting to have fewer children.

According to a recent UN estimate, the number of elderly persons is expected to more than double, from 535 million in 2015 to about 1.3 billion in 2050. Furthermore, by 2030, 60 per cent of the world’s older population is expected to reside in Asia.

Preventing a pattern of dependency

For instance, Singapore has the fifth-longest life expectancy globally, and by 2030 almost one-quarter of the population will be aged 65 and above. Therefore, their government has made it a priority to develop new solutions for aged care, according to a report in The Conversation Journal.

Several older people are mostly healthy and independent, both physically and emotionally. However, some might have manageable diseases or disabilities, while others might be going through serious illnesses that require intensive care. The goal is to keep the elderly as healthy and independent as possible to delay them from falling into a pattern of greater dependency.

Provision of integrated care

One of the challenges when managing elder care is that it is often addressed in fragmented ways. There isn’t enough coordination among different care providers, as older people might seek care from several health professionals for various issues. One solution is the provision of integrated care.

Keeping that in mind, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched the ‘Integrated Care for Older People’ framework for countries dealing with ageing populations. One of the key points highlighted in the framework is having aligned health systems that can make it easier to integrate care for older people and have a comprehensive assessment, a common goal, and a care plan shared across all providers.

Another factor to acknowledge is that integrated care would allow older people to age in the comfort of their own homes and within their communities. Their health and social care needs would then be met without institutionalising them in nursing homes or hospitals. Ageing around their loved ones would, in return, allow them to have a higher quality of life.

Furthermore, providing registered nurses and healthcare assistants in communities will go a long way in creating a truly integrated care system. For example, China has been experimenting with different models of community health services to achieve an integrated care system. Japan has also invested in the training of geriatricians and the development of community care services.

Several technological advancements are also supporting the care of elderly patients. Today, innovations such as gesture-controlled game consoles with digital health training are being developed primarily for seniors in the prevention and health promotion in care facilities. An effectiveness study showed that the physical and cognitive performance of the users was strengthened by using this technology. Also, the ability to care for themselves and perform general activities independently improved significantly and participants were motivated to interact with others.

Going forward, the future of elder care in Asia requires improved planning, more financing and human resources, to ensure that the final years of their life must have as much meaning and purpose.

Key stakeholders must recognise investment opportunities to accelerate innovation in healthcare facilities and clinical care while understanding the challenges and demands it will create for health and social services, regulatory authorities, and existing communities.

To understand how senior citizens can be supported to foster an environment of equality, care, and wellbeing, attend AQMEN365’s ‘Future Proofing Elder Care in Asia’ digital conference scheduled to take place on 22 March 2022. The session will put the spotlight on innovations in elder care, investment opportunities in healthcare and more.