Hong Kong will Become a Super-Ageing Society in 2024
Advocating Joint Planning to Overcome Ageing Challenges
Calling for Cross-sector Collaboration to Support Seniors & Caregivers
BOC Group Life Assurance Company Limited (“BOC Life”) and the Golden Age Foundation (“GAF”) jointly released the “Ageing Together” White Paper today. The study explores the roles, pain points, and needs of seniors and caregivers in Hong Kong. The survey conducted for the White Paper found that caregivers also need attention and care. Given the differences in perception between seniors and caregivers regarding the current situation and expectations of seniors’ retirement life, caregivers should participate in the early planning the retirement of seniors. All sectors of society should strengthen cooperation to promote the development of elderly services and build an “age-friendly” city.
According to data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, the proportion of people aged 65 and above in Hong Kong is expected to exceed 21% in 2024, thus entering the “super-ageing society.” Hong Kong's average life expectancy has consistently ranked among the highest in the world. According to a population analysis by the United Nations earlier this year, by 2050, Hong Kong is expected to have the world’s oldest population, with one in every 2.5 residents being a senior citizen. Addressing the ageing population issue has become urgent. To gain a deeper understanding of the retirement life of Hong Kong’s seniors as well as the experiences, pain points, and needs of seniors and caregivers, BOC Life conducted a quantitative research survey with 952 retired individuals and caregivers from middle-class or above families, and qualitative research through home visits to working caregivers.
This White Paper, jointly released by BOC Life and GAF, has incorporated expert opinions from Prof. Vivian Lou, Director of the Sau Po Centre on Ageing at The University of Hong Kong, and Prof. Joshua Mok, Vice President of Lingnan University. Based on the survey results, the research team constructed the “Ageing Well Index”, covering four major aspects of elderly life: health, financial situation, family and relationships, and community support, to understand the satisfaction levels of seniors with their current lives.
Survey results show:
The “Ageing Well Index”, established through the White Paper survey, shows an average score of 6.0 out of 10, with relatively lower satisfaction levels in health and community support.
While the majority of seniors undergo regular body check-ups, over 90% worry about serious health risks, over 80% about physical activity and memory and cognitive abilities, and over 60% about their mental health.
The White Paper suggests that the best time for retirement planning is between the ages of 35 and 50. People between these ages with caregiving responsibilities should not only plan for their own retirement but also the elderly arrangements of their parents.
The survey found that 81% of the interviewed retirees are satisfied with their present situation, but only 63% of caregivers believe their retired parents are satisfied with their present situation. For caregivers of seniors aged 80 or above, only 46% believe their parents are satisfied with their present situation. As seniors get older, the perception gap between seniors and caregivers regarding their life satisfaction widens, which may affect their caregiving and planning needs or hinder timely responses to emergencies.
Financially, although 73% of interviewed seniors are satisfied with their financial arrangements, they still have financial worries. About half of the seniors use their pre-retirement monthly expenses as a benchmark for how much they would need during retirement. About 40% indicate they have not engaged in any financial planning for their retirement, indicating inadequate detailed preparation for future expenses.
Among the interviewed caregivers, 85% belong to the “sandwich generation”, juggling their own careers while taking care of their families and elderly parents. Over 52% of caregivers express concern that future expenses for taking care of their parents will affect their financial plans or savings. The White Paper suggests that the best time for retirement planning is between the ages of 35 and 50. People between these ages with caregiving responsibilities should not only plan for their own retirement but also the elderly arrangements of their parents. This approach will not only enable caretakers to help their ageing parents feel more assured about their future, but also to be better equipped for planning their own retirement and care arrangements. The relevant planning should consider:
The importance of early participation in and preparation for caregiving and planning.
Prevention and management of related risks, including financial, health, and environmental risks.
Continuous learning to enhance autonomy and skills (after retirement).
Exploring and understanding related products and services that will help enhance post-retirement quality of life.
Mr. Wilson Tang, Chief Executive of BOC Life, states, “Through this White Paper, BOC Life hopes to raise awareness among all sectors of society about the profound impact of ageing on individuals and the society. By incorporating the expertise and the experiences of the business community, social welfare sector, and academia, we can jointly develop the retirement services in Hong Kong, transform the elderly care ecosystem, and achieve synergy for the overall benefit of seniors, family caregivers, and the entire industry. We hope to establish Hong Kong as an 'age-friendly' sustainable city and contribute to the realisation of the mission to promote their sense of belonging, sense of security and sense of worthiness.”
Mrs. Rebecca Choy Yung, Founder and Chairman of Golden Age Foundation, said, “To overcome the challenges posed by the ageing population, the business sector should leverage their business acumen and strategic thinking to satisfy the new needs of the middle-aged and the elderly, creating business for social good and shared value.”
Prof. Vivian Lou, Director of the Sau Po Centre on Ageing at The University of Hong Kong, said, “Most caregivers are middle-aged or older females. Elderly care entails great expenses. All sectors in the society should recognise the contributions of caregivers, and support them to keep their jobs while caring for their older family members and be able to better balance between work and family.”
The White Paper presents new insights into future elderly care services, proposing the collaboration of “insurance + elderly care services” to promote the development of the elderly care service industry, treating retirement planning as risk management, constructing a comprehensive risk assessment and management system, emphasising the participation of caregivers in seniors' retirement planning because “today's caregivers are tomorrow's seniors”. Early participation of caregivers in their parents’ retirement planning is mutually beneficial. The paper also advocates for continuing education for retired seniors to enhance their retirement planning capabilities, exploring the “insurance + service" model, and promoting coordinated development of elderly care services in the Greater Bay Area to improve the quality of life for seniors in both regions.