Track Session 2.2 Embracing an ageing society (Co-presented with The Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Health Foundation)
Track Session 2.2
Embracing an ageing society (Co-presented with The Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Health Foundation)
- Etsuko KITA Chair, Sasakawa Health Foundation
- Donald LI Chairman of Elderly Commission, Labour and Welfare Bureau, The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government
- Jill WHITE Professor Emerita, University of Sydney and University of Technology Sydney
- Marla SALMON Professor of Nursing and Global Health, University of Washington
Prof Marla Salmon, Professor of Nursing and Global Health of University of Washington moderated the discussion for this session and kicked off by questioning our understanding of ageing, challenging that each of us is ageing from the time that we are conceived.
Pushing on this, Prof Jill White, Professor Emerita of University of Sydney and University of Technology Sydney, anchored on how “personhood” — the essential characteristics of individuals that guide their values, and interactions — is important to consider in an ageing society to ensure quality lives. “It is something to grasp and hold onto, and facilitate the capacity of, throughout our lives and particularly when we age.” She also explained how nurses and midwives should have an influence on welfare policy given their closest experience with elderly patients. Dr Donald Li, Chairman of Elderly Commission, Labour and Welfare Bureau of The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, commented that from a medical perspective, personhood should be protected by providers and families practising people-centred care, where there is a focus on social elements such as active ageing, stimulation, and social interactions, all of which protect our “personhood”.
Dr Etsuko Kita, Chair of Sasakawa Health Foundation, shared that her organisation’s nursing model in Japan looks after the elderly who live alone. They have 8,000 nursing centres that provide patients with nursing care in their homes across the country. To enhance scalability, they recently launched a training course for nurses that teaches them skills to manage and run their own centres, enabling more end-to-end offices to be opened and different career paths apart from care work for the nurses. Prof White also explained the need to revamp our policies such that they focus less on a fixed age of retirement and more on allowing elderly people to participate in society. On this note, Dr Li shared the successful example of an elderly academy that welcomes elderly people back to school and helps them seek part-time reemployment post-retirement.
Prof White also reflected on the importance of good design guidelines and principles for long-term care that enhance caregiving (e.g., having coloured floors, and good lighting). On the topic of technology, Prof White recounted the functionalities of many smart devices such as watches that keep track of walking, balance, breathing, or smart homes that can turn on lights. These track key statistics that can help preventative care or prevent accidents. While Dr Kita seconded technological advancements and their capabilities, she commented on how some societies such as Japan are already aged societies, and many elderly still feel the need for in-person consultations and physical encounters. She strongly advocated for the importance of nurses, especially as many of them are in these communities and have the necessary training and skillsets.
Dr Li shared that philanthropy could support pilot projects and play a role in advocacy and Prof White explained how philanthropy can enable conversations around voluntary assisted dying, a rising issue that governments would be hesitant to tackle. Prof Salmon concluded the session by saying, “Ageing is part of life rather than a problem; we are all in this together. And by doing it together, it will be much easier to tackle.”