Jakarta (ANTARA) - The government commemorated National Elderly Day on May 26 by providing aid to thousands of senior citizens.

Aside from receiving free medical treatments, including cataract surgeries, some of the elderly were also assisted in registering previously unregistered marriages and making electronic identity cards.

They need assistance for several reasons, such as having already entered retirement with no pension fund, experiencing economic vulnerability, or living alone in poor conditions.

Like other countries, due to improving population health and life expectancy, Indonesia is witnessing an increase in members of the aging population, along with its demographic bonus, which is projected to peak by 2030.

According to the National Population and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN), population aging is experienced by eight provinces, four of which are on the country's most populated island, Java.

Statistics Indonesia recorded that the percentage of the elderly population reached 11.75 percent in 2023, up 1.27 points compared to 10.48 percent in the previous year. The percentage is projected to close to 20 percent in 2045, when the nation celebrates 100 years of independence.

To address the issue, the government has prepared a policy for realizing an independent, healthy, and respectable elderly population, as population health continues to improve, thus increasing the number of elderly people.

Some of the government's policy directions regarding the elderly population include preparing for social and economic retirement.

The government will harness the economic potential of the elderly population by making them both consumers and producers, which is also known as the "silver economy."

Moreover, to make them more economically independent, old people will be assisted in finding suitable job opportunities according to their abilities and needs.

The policy will encourage sustainable consumption among the elderly population to prevent a surge in health spending in old age and improve human resource investment among young people.

The National Development Planning Ministry (Bappenas) stated that a longer life expectancy must be supported by a healthy life expectancy, thereby increasing productivity.

Longer life expectancy means there is a need to have more savings, with the expectation that social protection already covers retirement benefits and long-term care for old people.

Caring for old people

Apart from the government's policies to encourage benefits for old people, Indonesian society must increase its awareness of caring for and protecting the elderly.

During a National Elderly Day commemoration event in North Aceh, Aceh, Minister of Social Affairs Tri Rismaharini stressed that leaving the elderly in nursing homes is not part of Indonesian culture.

"This is a concept imported from other cultures," she remarked. "I believe that this cultural practice is not aligned with our own."

Rismaharini acknowledged the fact that nursing homes can accommodate senior citizens abandoned by their families.

However, reliance on services provided by nursing homes might make people overlook the need to take care of their parents and tend to entrust and leave them in other people's care.

"Is that good? Our nation and our religions do not teach us to do that," she emphasized.

Abandoning one's parents goes against Indonesian cultural values, she emphasized.

"I have been reading reports and attempting to identify the reasons behind people abandoning their parents. I have found out that the reasons are not limited to economic issues. In fact, there are successful people who are not visiting their parents," she stated.

Bearing that in mind, she emphasized the importance of instilling the values of care for the elderly in people from an early age so that the values can be passed down to their children and grandchildren.

Rismaharini called on all relevant stakeholders to pay special attention to the need to teach children how to properly treat the elderly in a bid to reduce the number of abandoned senior citizens.

She affirmed that the optimization of old people’s role in society in Indonesia can be done if family members also play a role in caring for and loving them.

"Let us devote more attention to our elders," she affirmed. "Why? It is because, without them, we are nothing. Without our old people, without our teachers, and without the other old people who used to guide us, we are nobody."

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry's director for productive population and elderly health, Nida Rohmawati, stated that her side has come up with four actions to support the empowerment of old people, with the first being combating ageism, which covers thoughts and actions toward people based on perceptions about age.

The second step is creating an elderly-friendly environment, while the third is integrated care for older people, and the fourth is long-term care for older people.

So far, Indonesia has been pursuing the third action, for instance, by initiating Simple Health Screening for the Elderly (SKILAS).

With these initiatives and improved policies that reintegrate seniors into society, Indonesia can handle the aging population adeptly, thereby supporting its goal of becoming a prosperous and advanced country.

Related news: Elderly empowerment vital in face of aging population: ministry
Related news: Leaving elderly in nursing homes not Indonesian culture: Minister

Editor: Anton Santoso
Copyright © ANTARA 2024