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Professor Iris Chi

Founding Director, Sau Po Centre on Ageing, HKU;
Golden Age Association Frances Wu Chair for Chinese
Elderly, USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social WorkVP Product

Three decades ago there were little talk about ageing policies and related programmes, especially from the academic perspective; and too often academics and policy makers are just focusing on pension and nursing home issues. We realise that ageing is more complex and too immediate a phenomenon. Academics can no longer take another decade researching on an issue before society gets to tackle it. It works better and more quickly for the academics to disseminate the information provided by research and turn such information into feasible policies. Although at the beginning our work became controversial to some who thought we siding with the government by working on their consultancy studies, our goal is to develop evidence-based policies and programmes for our senior citizens in Hong Kong. We studied how other parts of the world make relevant policies and we bear their experiences in mind as we come up with our own solutions. One may say that most of the relevant policies implemented by the government over the last few years have been initiated by CoA. It is of utmost importance that our work is entirely based on science. For example, research tells us no one like staying in a nursing home. I remember once talking with the superintendent of a nursing home about improving community care and let older adults age in place. She took that as a criticism and defended the services her facility provided. I suggested her asking other superintendents and see if any of them would be willing to reside in their own nursing homes if needed. Later she came to me ill at ease saying that sure enough the other superintendents would not want to stay in their own facilities. In the end we have to develop the capacity for senior citizens to choose where they prefer to spend their final years in peace. In fact, ageing is not a problem - longevity without quality of life is. The three most important things in old age are good health, enough money, and meaningful social relationships. We are too used to dividing our lives into stages, thinking that ageing policies are for those aged 65 or above, and that ageing is something you think about only when you get old. That's why now we advocate research on the course of a lifetime, even when you don't think about ageing once you're born, we can educate ourselves to be

Professor Iris Chi
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