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Ageing Asia

Various photographers


Wrinkles are spreading across the face of Asia. By 2050, the number of people over 65 in Asia is predicted to triple. While ageing populations are a global issue, Asian nations are at the visible forefront of the change. The Asian Development Bank says Asia's elderly population is projected to reach nearly 923 million by the middle of this century placing the region on track to become one of the oldest in the world in the next few decades. Rising percentages of 'oldies', caused by increasing life expectancies and coupled by lower birth rates in many nations, are causing shifts in economic thinking and development.


Faced with an older workforce, a shortage of labor, and changing needs and demands, ageing populations will increasingly influence the way countries develop their public policy and economic plans in the years ahead. The population in China is growing old at a faster rate than most other countries in the world, and with the world's numerically largest ageing population, it is predicted to keep rising and hit some 330 million of over 65-year-olds by 2050.This figure represents the current population of the United States. But how are older people ageing? Today it is common to say: 'the 60 of today, is not the 60 of yesterday.' Many seniors expect to keep working longer, follow a youthful outlook and fashion and put effort into keeping fit and healthy. But older age comes with eventual illness and decline.


The burdens of family aged care have hit Asia especially hard and the idea of aged care homes is not a traditional or acceptable concept for many Asians as it has become in the West. In Nepal, government budgets for social services are tight and there is only one government run-aged care home, housing 221 seniors. For those without a caring family, life can be harsh with no social system to support them. Older people are normally cared for in the home of their children as an expected duty, until death, but the burdens of this are many. Those who do send parents to homes for old people are often viewed as abandoning them, triggering gossip and accusations. Many nations see a solution in the at-home care-giving using female immigrant foreign workers, and Taiwan is among those who since 1992, import foreign maids and carers as a common aged care solution, with more than 300,000 foreign maids listed in Taiwan, mostly from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand. Technology is increasingly used among wealthier nations and seen as the future solution to maintain their economy with an ageing population - and assist in aged care.