Call to recognise contributions of elderly

Azlan Othman

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin yesterday underlined the importance of giving due recognition of contributions from older men and women.

He added that it is also important to anticipate and account for the challenges they face and that their needs are met, so that no-one is left behind.

The minister made these comments during the handover of a state-of-the art TechnoGym equipment at the Senior Citizens Activity Centre (PKWE) in Jalan 77, RPN Kampong Lambak Kanan.

In commemorating International Day of Older Persons (HAWE) and the World Dementia Month, Fitness Zone (FZ) in collaboration with Demensia Brunei (dB) presented the equipment sponsored by its Founder and Managing Director Wu Chun.

“Older people have always played a significant role in society as leaders, caretakers and custodians of tradition. Yet they are also highly vulnerable, with many falling into poverty, becoming disabled or facing discrimination,” said the minister. “As healthcare improves, the population of older people is growing. Their needs are also growing, as are their contributions to the world.”

Wu Chun, dB’s goodwill ambassador, said, “I want every person in Brunei to be healthy and age well. There is no prevention and there is no cure for ageing – for now. But, we can all certainly take ownership of our own health, to choose and decide to live better and make better meal choices.

“It is also very important that we unite against dementia and work together to create a positive change. Defeating dementia won’t just happen in a lab or care setting, we need to change the way people think, act and talk about the condition.”

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin and Wu Chun look on as a senior citizen at the Senior Citizens Activity Centre (PKWE) in Jalan 77, RPN Kampong Lambak Kanan tries out the gym equipment. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

Wu Chun and FZ collaborate with Demensia Brunei and FZ fitness trainers to conduct workshops on elderly care and dementia care skills to better support the community with exercise, balanced nutrition and lifestyle changes.

Demensia Brunei Honorary Advisor Datin Jacqueline Wong said, “Today is a first step towards promoting inter-generational activities through the PKWE, reflect on best practices, lessons and progress on the journey to ending older age inequalities, and changing negative narratives and stereotypes involving ‘old age’.”

She added, “Brunei will be a showcase of inter-generational solidarity.”

The commemoration of the event served to raise awareness about staying active while ageing well; to encourage active ageing and risk reduction measures for the wider community via exercise, healthy lifestyle, interaction activities, workshops and training; and to highlight the challenges of dementia and reduce its stigma in the communities in Brunei.

Today, almost 700 million people are over the age of 60, with a figure globally set to reach two billion persons above the age of 60 by 2050.

The increase in persons above the age of 60 will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world, with Asia composed of the largest number of older persons, and Africa facing the largest proportionate growth (United Nations, 2019).

This year’s theme for the International Day of Older Persons is ‘The Journey to Age Equality’.

Between 2017 and 2030, the number of persons aged 60 or over is projected to grow by 46 per cent (from 962 million to 1.4 billion) globally outnumbering youth, as well as children under the age of 10.

Moreover, this increase will be the greatest and most rapid in the developing world.

The ageing population is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st Century.

And with ageing, dementia is the number one public health disease and will be the most serious health crisis of the 21st Century.