According to the United Nations’ estimate, one in four people will be aged 65 and above by 2050 in Malaysia. To cater to the needs of our ageing population, families and communities must work together to ensure facilities, support and infrastructure are in place for seniors.
Meet the busybodies
A community group in SS20, Petaling Jaya, aren’t shy to call themselves “a cluster of busybodies”.
“In our neighbourhood, most residents are empty nesters. We look out for each other, especially those with medical concerns. If an elderly needs a lift to the hospital, someone will step in to help,” says Datin Lim Ah Lan, 70.
Close to 35% of Lim’s neighbours are elderly couples and seniors who live on their own. They have banded together to form the Social Connect Group to promote independent and active living among seniors, and to look out for each other.
“Community togetherness is important, especially to support positive ageing. Our neighbours are the first people we turn to in times of an emergency, especially since our children have left the coop,” says Lim.
It all started several years ago, when community members got together to tackle petty crime. Over time, they formed firm friendships and realise that they could work together to improve their lives.
These days, they get together for activities such as potlucks, line dancing, hiking, and health talks.
“While we can’t be caregivers, our focus is on promoting an active and healthier lifestyle. It is based on self help and mutual support for one another,” says Datin Lim.
Aunties can travel
If you can’t ferry your elderly mother or aunt for medical check-ups, MakcikTravels can help. MakcikTravels is a travel service for female travellers. It was launched last November by businesswoman Dr Sazlina Kamaralzaman, 48.
Two services are provided – Makcik Drives (a 24-hour service similar to an e-hailing service) and Makcik Chaperone (a travel companion will accompany a customer to the location of her choice).
There has been a steady demand for Makcik Chaperone, launched two months ago, especially from children of senior women.
“Most customers are working individuals who are unable to accompany their loved ones to the hospital or healthcare centres. They want someone to assist their mothers, to push their wheelchairs and pick up medication,” says Dr Sazlina, who has a team of 130 female travel companions, with valid driving license.
The service is available in the Klang Valley, Perak, Kelantan and Johor. Bookings are made via the website (makciktravels.com), and its social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Travel made easy
It is difficult for people with mobility and physical disabilities to commute from one place to another.
But thanks to OKYouGo, a Klang Valley-based travel service, wheelchair users now have the option of travelling easily in the comforts of a van. The service, launched last year by a disabled person, caters to the growing number of wheelchair-bound people needing transportation to hospitals and dialysis centres.
Each van – equipped with a hydraulic lift, restraining straps and lap safety belts – can carry three wheelchairs and three caregivers. Bookings can be made on OKYouGo on Facebook.