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More disabled friendly venues needed

Kota Kinabalu: We must encourage the State governments in Malaysia to provide more access and mobility for all elderly and disabled people in all parts of the respective cities.

philip-poi-jun-huaPresident of the Malaysian Society of Geriatric Medicine (MSGM), Professor Dr Philip Poi Jun Hua made this suggestion at the recent 12th National Geriatrics Conference, here.

Speaking to the Daily Express after his presentation on Geriatric Medicine in Malaysia, he said: “We must have more ramps in public places ready for the elderly people to walk up, so they can access without the help of other people.

“You have to build all these things so that everything is elder-friendly, and the elderly don’t need family members to help them up the steps.” Prof Dr Poi, who is with the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), also emphasised the need for health maintenance.

“Health maintenance must come from within. The person concerned must look after himself or herself.

That is not something to be fearful of because what we just have to do is develop health services to support senior citizens so that they can help themselves.

“That way, the elder persons can maintain their dignity and independence for as long as possible before they are struck down by any form of disability,” he pointed out.

Saying Health is Wealth, the Consultant Geriatrician said maintenance of health starts from a time, not when you are old, but when you are young. “Having a healthy lifestyle from a very young age will bring you good health and wealth later on.

We can achieve disease prevention by promotion of good health.”

In a related development, Prof Dr Poi said the current trend of children sending their ageing parents to senior citizens’ homes or daycare centres is a sign of the times.

“In the old days, people were less mobile and didn’t have to travel more than 50km away to find jobs.

They were able to find work where they stayed, so it was easy for them to look after their parents.

“Not only that…there was only one breadwinner in the house then, so the wife or unmarried daughter could look after their aged parents. That’s traditionally the case in many situations.

“However, now owing to the country’s development and progress, people are more mobile in seeking their own living elsewhere, some even overseas, outside the sphere of their family. The family needs to understand,” he contended.

In this regard, Prof Dr Poi said, older people need to realise that the role of life is different from that of their fathers and mothers.

“Their fathers and mothers had their children looking after them but they now cannot expect their children to do likewise, so they have to look after themselves,” he noted, adding that the current generation of older people were not prepared for this because they did not expect the change to take place in their lifetime.

He, however, felt that it is not completely wrong “because they (children) have to make a living to survive, and you can’t say, ‘Look, you have to give up your job in KL or Singapore. Come home, you have to look after your father.’

That being the case, they (children) will have nothing for themselves when they get old.”

At this juncture, Prof Dr Poi argued that since we cannot turn the clock back, what we can do is make the current middle-aged group aware that they should be ready for change (unlike their parents) when their turn comes by preparing for their own future, now.

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