• Industry: Healthcare
  • Type: Survey report
  • Date: 5/21/2013

Change attitudes to aging 

Change attitudes
Many of the challenges in long term care stem from deep-rooted societal attitudes and fears about aging and death. When considering the role of the elderly, the emphasis is all too often upon their frailties and decline, rather than their potential to contribute actively to society and the economy.

Such negative views are preventing a wider debate about policies towards funding and end of life care, as many simply do not want to discuss this subject. Nevertheless, there are some examples of progress. Australia held a ‘national conversation’ with older citizens, their carers and families in 2011 to help inform its response to a nationwide report entitled Caring for Older Australians, which is helping to shape the country’s broader agenda for aging.

“Applied research and evaluation should go hand-in-hand with efforts to modernize the long term care sector. This is to ensure that reforms work as intended and best practices are identified and passed back to providers in order to improve service delivery and the quality of care.”

Dr. Dennis Kodner, International Visiting Fellow The King’s Fund, Canada

The National Academy of Public Administration in UK designed an application, called Dialogue App, specifically to promote stakeholder dialogue and engagement, including policy discussion, participatory budgeting, idea generation and public debate. This has been adopted by the UK Central Government. Such tools can stimulate national conversations about solving the elderly crisis.

In Singapore, a national initiative called “Our Singapore Conversation” was launched in 2012 to give Singaporeans an opportunity to discuss the type of country they want to live in and establish priorities and direction. Dialogue themes included future policies related to healthcare, attitudes towards aging and the needs of the elderly and caregivers.

These attempts, although laudable, are just a start and politicians, policymakers, opinion leaders, professionals, representatives of patients and charitable foundations around the world should all enter into a far more open and honest debate about aging and confront the difficult questions head-on.

"Long term care in Singapore needs to be looked at through a gender lens and recognize that men and women age differently with different requirements in their old age in terms of financing and support. Likewise, it is important to take a long term perspective in planning for preventive and health promotive care in order to reduce long term care needs in the population over time."

Dr. Mary Anne Tsao, President and Founding Director, Tsao Foundation Singapore


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