22 (September 2009)
According to the latest statistics released by the Census and Statistics Department, the Hong Kong population aged 65 and over was 829,300 at the end of 2004. The number of persons aged 65 or older is projected to increase by 17.9% to 978,000, representing 13.2% of population in 2013. This increase in the number and proportion of elderly will intensify the challenges of ageing, which will put further pressure on the government and the society at large. In response to Hong Kong's rapid aging population and in line with the concept of active and successful ageing, the question of how to assist the elderly to achieve a happy elder life has become a very important issue. According to World Health Organization (WHO), "healthy” is defined as having good physical, psychological, and social status. Therefore, having a happy elder life means not only having good physical health, but also good psychological state and social status.
In the past, studies on understanding the happiness of the elderly were scarce in Hong Kong. The survey on “How to lead a Happy Elder Life” conducted by Hong Kong Christian Service and Elderly Council (2001) was one of the first local study on elderly’s perception about happiness. Similar to other studies overseas (Kehn 1995; Ikels 1994), it was found that “good health status”, “good social relationship”, “stable financial situation”, and “good living arrangement” were the key factors affecting the well-being of the elderly.
In addition, some scholars found that the involvement and participation across the generations is also an important element that determines well-being and happiness among the elderly (Hareven 1996). According to Sellars (1998), the collaboration between teenagers and elderly in daily life or school life would not only improve the relationship and understanding among two generations, but would also improve the self-worth of the elderly giving rise to a more fulfilling elder life. In addition, it was found that the quality of care provided by mid-aged adults (such as care givers for the elderly) was another factor affecting the life satisfaction level of the elderly (Hareven and Adams 1996; Hogan, Eggebeen and Snaith 1996). Based on the findings of these studies, it is believed that having a happy elder life requires the mutual effort of and contribution from different generations.
In order to assist the elderly people to lead a happy elder life, the Elderly Commission has been promoting the concept of “Healthy Ageing” in Hong Kong since 2001. The aim of the campaign of Healthy Aging was to create a sustained healthy living environment and to allow the citizens to enjoy their elder life autonomously (Department of Health and Elderly Commission 2001). In response to this campaign, Hong Kong Christian Service combine the concepts of “Healthy Aging” and “Happy Elder Life” 3 to conduct an elderly survey on “how to lead a happy elder life” in 2001 (Hong Kong Christian Service 2001).
A second study was conducted four years later. The main objectives of this survey remain the same, they are to find out the happiness index in 2005 compared with the 2001 survey and to understand how people of different age groups perceive the question of “How to lead a Happy Elder Life”. The findings of the study serve as useful inputs for promoting mutual understanding, care, and love among the different generations in Hong Kong.
Chueng, Y. N., & Chan, C. W. J. (2009). Intergeneration perception toward happiness in elderly life (APIAS Monograph Paper Series No.22). Retrieved from Lingnan University website: http://commons.ln.edu.hk/apiasmp/22