Editorial comment – Ageing population

Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katoivere and resident Durga Prasad meet up during the Fiji Senior Citizens Week celebration at the Labasa Golden Age Home. Picture LUKE RAWALAI/FILE

MINISTER for Women Mereseini Vuniwaqa said Fiji’s older population was growing by at least 3000 every year.

Speaking during the Senior Citizens Week celebration in Ba yesterday, Mrs Vuniwaqa said this projection was made by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The oldest old population (80 years of age and over), she said, was also expected to increase rapidly from 5000 in 2010 to 28,500 by 2050.

This means, she said, we have a huge responsibility to ensure our senior citizens, who have given us so many reasons and means to live a prosperous life, get the best in their most vulnerable stage in life.

Fiji’s older population in 2015, she said, comprised nearly 9.3 per cent of the total population and was expected to reach nearly 20 per cent of the population in 2050.

This, she said, brings to reality the need to prepare ourselves for an ageing population.

She said Government was committed to ensuring older people were looked after and cared for.

It seems, because women live longer than men, there will be more older women in the future in Fiji than men, particularly among the oldest (80 years of age and over).

If older people are to live fulfilling lives, then we must invest in their care.

Officiating at the Fiji Senior Citizens Week celebration at the Labasa Golden Age Home on Monday, Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere said statistics point out that the proportion of older people (60 years of age and over) would be higher in rural areas than urban areas.

Increased longevity and decreased fertility, he said, are the primary causes of an ageing population.

The number of older people, he said, defined as the population aged 60 years of age and over, in Fiji was projected to grow from about 69,300 in 2010 to 170,500 by 2050.

We must acknowledge that ageing is a normal part of the life cycle not necessarily to be feared, he said. Ratu Wiliame said something that should resound loudly in our minds.

Changes would materialise when every Fijian realised that older Fijians were not just 15 per cent of our population, but that old age was a fate which awaits us all.

We should remember we all grow old and there will come a time when we will need care as well.

The challenge for us all now is to embrace the fact that the elderly need our support and consideration.

We must consider their welfare, their security and help to lay the base for a fulfilling life.

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