BRUNEI-MUARA – The Centre for Advanced Research (CARe) of Universiti Brunei Darussalam will be conducting landmark research to provide a better understanding of the effects of an ageing population on the sultanate.
Dubbed the “National Study on Elderly People”, the news was announced by visiting fellow Dr Yusnani Mohd Yusof-Kozlowski during the Forum on New Frontiers in Social Researching on Ageing that took place at UBD on Saturday.
In 2018, the ageing population in Brunei (individuals aged above 60) is estimated at 40,000, representing 10.7 percent of the country’s population.
This figure is a cause for concern, Dr Yusnani said, because Brunei has already surpassed the threshold of what is considered an ageing nation — seven per cent, according to the United Nations.
She added that through the survey, CARe aims to observe and identify the different aspects of elderly life in the sultanate — data that has never before been recorded in the country.
The research will be used to formulate policies that will address the social and economic impact of an ageing population, while also taking into consideration aspects that are unique to Brunei.
Cultural practices commonly adopted by Bruneian families, such as filial piety or the three-generational household, will be studied to see whether they will “stand the test of time”, as data suggests strong support for elderly welfare.
“The biggest proportion [of the ageing population] are individuals between 60 and 70 years old, comprising 69 percent of our aged population or 28,000 people. This group will be moving towards the old-age population [71 to 80 years old],” said Dr Yusnani.
“In terms of figures, it may look small, but if we think of in terms of the services that we want to provide [for the aged population], it is gargantuan for Brunei Darussalam,” the researcher added.
The data collection will begin this September covering a sample size of 600 elderly individuals above the age of 60, from all districts of the sultanate.
Slated for completion by July or August next year, Dr Yusnani said that the survey will be holistic, including observational analysis of the elderly’s way of life including their living conditions and social participation.
The forum’s keynote speaker, Professor Dr Tengku Aizan Hamid, director of the Malaysian Research Institute on Ageing of Universiti Putra Malaysia, urged Brunei to be prepared with the necessary policies to address the effects of an ageing population.
She said that based on the2017 revision of the UN World Population Database, the elderly population of ASEAN (defined as 65 and above) was projected to double at an alarming speed, jumping from seven to 14 percent over 15 years.
“It took France 150 years to double its ageing population, and we in the ASEAN region are doing it very fast,” she said.
Dr Tengku Aizan called for regional governments and research institutions to strengthen their collaboration on ageing population research because it is a global phenomenon.
“The ultimate aim for us is to do research, so that the our research can be used in policy making. As ASEAN member countries we have a shared history and cultural heritage, so lets do more than just create an intervarsity network,” she said.
“We need to learn from each other and [for Brunei] you have to act now, because as with any policy, you will only see the effects in 10 to 15 years.”