Category Archives: Think Piece

We deliver insights on trends, practices and ideas about senior living and aged care.

Healthy Ageing in ViTa Facility

Healthy Ageing: Turning Conviction In Care Into Reality

Aged Care Group (ACG) achieved a new milestone with ACH Group – Australia’s leading aged care organisation – to provide innovative care for diverse markets and healthy ageing.

In conjunction with the collaboration, the ACG team had an opportunity to tour some of their aged care facilities. In an interview regarding their experience, members of the visiting team shared aspects of ACH Group’s care delivery that were adaptable in Malaysia and unique to them individually.

Branding Aged Care Articulately – Reeca Lim

For Reeca Lim, ACG’s marketing professional who conceptualises design and development, the tour was a chance to study the success model of care in a developed country, how it articulates their delivery of care and the distinctive approaches in cultivating aged care branding and prominence, as well as its impact on people.

The brand isn’t just about the building, it is about the continuous endeavours in developing and improving a comprehensive innovation framework (from software to hardware) and ensuring the message is effectively relayed to the public. This garners their stakeholders’ involvement to create changes that add value to the ecosystem.

What stood out was how aged care is expressed and communicated to people. There is a dedication to the philosophy of healthy ageing and that care comes first, which is deeply internalised within the organisation from the grass roots to top management.

That philosophy; conveyed via service design and product innovation that is supported with evidence-based research is the pillar to success.

Care Is About People – Paramjit & Tze Lin

Malaysia’s approach in healthcare has typically revolved around being illness-centric, but there is a paradigm shift of living better and not just longer. Nurse Manager, Paramjit Kaur stated that the approach in aged care has to focus on restoration, rehabilitation and supports healthy aging.

According to her, the best practices revolve around a person’s right to make choices for themselves. While healthcare providers give support by providing the necessary services, there must also be an emphasise on the care recipients’ participation to put effort into being healthy.

At ACH, residents are encouraged to view ageing as a journey, not a destination. This cultivates a mindset to be healthier and as independent as possible which is reflective in their involvement in social activities etc.

Additionally, the homes didn’t seem institutionalised. There are signs of the personal touch everywhere in the way the rooms were done up. No two rooms are the same and there is a homely atmosphere all around. The residents are well dressed and groomed, and had varying meal times to suit their needs.

This practice emphasises the care recipient’s restoration, not institutionalising them.

Registered nurse and care administrator, Tze Lin echoed her agreement with this sentiment, stating that parties who are interested in the aged care business need to perceive the elderly as unique individuals with their own goals in life – not as statistics – and then provide the conditions that will allow them to maintain their dignity.

Is important to embed such a culture in your team and organisation as it will be reflected in the service provided and the care that people receive. For example, developers need to be mindful when designing the space and layout of a facility centre. If you’re building a facility for dementia patients, space needs to be taken into consideration as dementia patients value space.

She also stated that inter-professional learning – between medical and non-medical disciplines – need to be cultivated to ensure there is a continuity or integration of care. This would also lead to aged care offerings that are disruptive to the norm, spurring innovative solutions that improves the quality of care for the elderly.

Adapting Operational Practices & Culture Specific Care – Derrick Chan

Quality standards are fundamental in the provision of service. Having shadowed and observed the day-to-day operations in a residential aged care facility, Derrick Chan – who conducts Research & Development in aged care affairs – stated that some of ACH’s standard operating procedures could be adapted in local practices.

This includes activity planning, meal preparation, care provision, health and safety, equipment usage, front and back office management, staff planning and so on.

The similarity in what ACH practices and what we want to achieve overlaps in terms of the services, procedures and the administration required to ease a care recipient’s transition from the home to an aged care facility. For example, the utilisation of financial planners and downsizing consultants.

Another aspect of ACH’s endeavours that struck a chord with Derrick was the provision of care to diverse cultures and how talents are developed to ensure sustainable human resource.

There were programmes created as part of the good practice in aged care. For example, ACH Group has cultural-specific programmes that engages groups of participants from varied cultures to promote diversity in aged care, such as the Cambodian and Muslim community programmes. I believe this is relevant to Malaysia’s cultural experiences.

There are also tailored programmes designed to equip staff and volunteers from across the organisation with skills and specialised knowledge to carry out their duties. ACH Group has a Dementia learning programme which trains providers to enable people living with dementia to live a good life.

Moving forward in Malaysia, a dementia specialist advisory service can be setup as there is a lack of expertise and services in this area.”

Melinda U: Conviction In Care, Not Convenience

Given the similarities of the care delivery models and practices, General Manager of Managedcare Sdn Bhd, Melinda U shared her interest in understanding how ACH Group has come to refined their model over the course of their 65-year experience.

Similar to Managedcare has done, ACH Group has made partnerships with universities for initiatives such as their ViTA project. I wanted to know in detail what did these partnerships entail, what is the business model and what were each party’s role in it. I also wanted to know the operational details of running an aged care facility on a day-to-day basis, what went well and what pitfalls to avoid. So when we operate our own facility, we’ll know how to do it right.

She further stated that the basis for any operational designs and their subsequent modifications comes down to embodying the concept of person-centred care.

For example, ACH assists people to retain their previous lifestyle and take steps – such as providing transport – to achieve it. They don’t turn life upside down just because its more convenient. Operations flow according to the care receiver’s rhythm.

There are challenges for organisations and businesses to balance operational and cost efficiency, but it can be done while maintaining sustainability. So for us it’s important that no matter how we balance these factors, we must stay true to what we believe in and keep our priority in line with our beliefs.”

In conclusion, we can look forward to the outcomes of this partnership as the synergy between the ACG and ACH Group’s care model and practices will open Malaysians to new possibilities of quality care.

Family Disputes

Financial Caregiving: How To Handle Family Disputes About Ageing Parents

Providing care for an aging parent or loved one can be a rewarding experience. However, it is also considered one of the most physically, mentally and emotionally stressful times an adult child will face. This isn’t only because of the intense demands placed on the caregiver, but also due to potential conflict amongst family members. The conflict isn’t just contained to who does what for mom or dad.

Among other things, financial matters are one of the main sources of conflict among family caregivers. This is especially so when siblings or other family members disagree on how funds are spent or if one or more caregivers are helping to support mom or dad. Who is in charge of the money decisions? Should mom/dad stop handling the investments? Is the aging parent showing signs of cognitive impairment? How bad is the condition and how do you know? Is one family member doing all the hard work?

Pertinent questions such as these can sneak up on adult children and the ageing parent, wreaking havoc on family relationships if distinct instructions aren’t discussed and answers are left vague. Combined with the fact that the caregiver may have to reduce working hours or leave their job entirely to care for a parent, resentment and animosity may surface.

If the situation isn’t handled delicately, the result can be explosive. Ugly accusations fly back and forth, someone brings in a lawyer and the conflict escalates.

Hence, before things get to this stage, you should have conversations with all parties in the family about how the ageing parent wants their needs met during their later years – especially if you’re getting along in years and still able to make decisions. Doing so would make the caregiving experience easier in later years and bring the family closer.

While you probably won’t cover all the important topics in one conversation, it’s a good idea to have a plan. At the very least, make sure you cover these two areas: understand your parents’ financial situation and lay the groundwork for advance care planning.

Talking With Parents About Finances
Money is often a sensitive issue. Many people don’t talk about their finances, even with family members. As such, communicating with your parents about the subject may feel awkward or like you’re overstepping a boundary in their personal lives. Some are concern that they might upset their parents by talking about issues related to their possible incapacity or death.

On the other hand, many adult children aren’t aware about their parents’ financial situation. They don’t know if their parents have sufficient money to live on, what type of care or medical treatment they want, whether they can financially afford the care they want, or even what they would want in the event they became incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves.

However, it is never too early to have such discussions with them. Most families don’t talk about these important matters until a major crisis occurs. Then more often than not, important health and financial decisions are made under great emotional distress and without the time to find and consider all the alternatives.

Consider these questions to start off your discussion:

  1. Are your parents living on a pension or fixed income that requires a strict budget?
  2. Do your parents have enough money to cover their future medical expenses?
  3. If there is a medical emergency, do you know who are your parents’ doctor and how to contact them?
  4. Have your parents designated someone to make financial decisions for them if they’re incapacitated?
  5. Do your parents have preferences on medical treatment or long-term care options that you should know?
  6. What is your parents’ opinion on assisted living?
  7. Have they designated a power of attorney? If so, where are the documents kept?
  8. Where do they keep important personal documents, such as their identification cards, birth and marriage certificates?
  9. Where do your parents keep their life, medical, and property insurance policies?
  10. Have they made a list of their savings and investment accounts? What are the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the financial institutions that hold these accounts?
  11. Who are their financial advisors and what are their contact information?
  12. Do each of your parents have a will? If so, where are they located?

* Source: “The changing needs of your aging parents: Have you talked to mom and dad lately?”, Timmermann, S. 2001.

The list is non-exhaustive, but it will help you narrow down the relevant topics you need to cover and guide you in the right direction.

The Benefits Of Advance Care Planning
You may have heard of Advance Care Planning (also known as ACP) and pays to have one. Planning how you receive care ahead of time is important for not only your peace of mind – for yourself, as well as your parents – it also helps to save money and lead you to more options and better choices in healthcare, housing and legal matters. It also helps to reduce family conflicts and ease the emotional distress.

The sooner your family begin planning for care, the more options they have available. For example, while many Malaysians would choose to stay in their homes for as long as possible – aided by home care services when needed – when given enough time to plan and compare different senior living arrangements, your parents might choose to move into a retirement community as they develop more definitively in Malaysia.

Some may prefer it over other options because they can stay in the neighbourhood near like-minded peers and be assured of the availability of continuum care. The facilities may also offer amenities -such as a fitness centre or transportation to planned social activities and shopping sites – that are important to your parents.

However, if your parents’ condition requires a high level of care, it could eliminate this alternative altogether. In such circumstances, such as limited mobility, they might have to choose another, less desirable living arrangement. Planning for these situations is especially pertinent as decisions are more difficult if your parents haven’t considered the options.

While talking about these issues – while they’re still healthy with time to plan and make choices – is discomforting, bear in mind that its much less so than the distress caused by failure to plan and decision-making during a crisis. You may not be successful in getting your parents to do some advance care planning, but the risks of not even having that conversation can be devastating.

Conclusion – The Pros and Cons
Unlike writing a will, penning down an Advance Care Plan document is not legally binding in Malaysia. The parties involved – such as doctors, healthcare professionals, and family members – are under no obligation to follow the directives listed and can ignore them in favour of options or treatments that healthcare professionals may deem more suitable.

However, having an ACP document that clarifies your preferences in a confusing and emotionally charged situation would give you or your parents a higher probability of receiving the care you wish for.

It also helps reduce ‘silence or violence’ responses – where family members either clam up when they get angry and shut off communication, or they get aggressive, accusatory and begin shouting and name calling, which also shuts off communication – and restore peace within the family.

If you need help with making an Advance Care Plan, do your research to find a trained and experienced Care Administrator. You can seek their services from Managedcare’s one stop care platform or visit for more information.

In the aftermath of medical emergencies, the matters is that a family pulls through the experience together for the better.


First Published: Smart Investor, November 2017

Written By: Aged Care Group


Paying For Dementia Care – How to Plan Ahead

In 2015, the Alzheimer Disease International’s world report had estimated that 46.8 million ageing people worldwide were affected with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other related memory disorders, with the majority of 22.9 million people affected residing in Asia.

The numbers were estimated to double every 20 years, with the number reaching 131.5 million by 2050. That is one new dementia case in every 3 seconds. In Malaysia, the last estimated number of dementia cases is projected to reach 261,000 in 2030 and 509, 000 in 2050. The estimated cost for dementia care is said to reach 705 million in USD.

Depending on the stage of these diseases, dementia individuals may require 24-hour supervision or care. With medical inflation being 10 – 15%, the cost for care is growing steeper. For the vast majority, family members – and sometimes friends – are the main providers of care is provided by friends. However, what happens when there isn’t enough money to pay for care?

As September 21st is World Alzheimer’s Day, it is prudent that we consider our potential encounter with dementia and make appropriate counter-measures. Hence, it is helpful to understand the different types of dementia, its varied stages and what to expect in order to make feasible financial plans if/when one faces dementia – be it for yourself or a loved one.


Dementia Types
Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a group of symptoms caused by many diseases associated with an on-going decline of the brain and its abilities. Dementia is an irreversible loss of cognitive capacity and memory, such that there is a decline in a person’s ability to function socially, physically and emotionally over time. While it usually appears in ages above 65, it should not be mistaken for simple forgetfulness due to old age as dementia is not a natural part of ageing.

As a brief overview, there are several types of dementia. However, the most common are listed below in descending order:

1. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) – The most common type of dementia which looks at the accumulation and depositions of abnormal proteins) inside the brain cells that disrupts messages from the brain to body.

2. Vascular Dementia (VaD) – Also common, this dementia type is formed by the accumulated effects of multiple Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) on brain function. It is commonly associated with hypertension, atherosclerosis and inadequate blood flow to brain.

3. Dementia with Lewy Bodies (LBD) – This is a progressive type of dementia in which Lewy bodies (abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein) build up in areas of the brain that regulate behaviour, cognition, and movement. LBD is usually difficult to distinguish from Alzheimer’s, VaD or Parkinson’s. Some symptoms of LBD include visual hallucinations and Parkinson-like symptoms such as a hunched posture, balance problems and rigid muscles.

4. Dementia associated with Parkinson’s Disease – This is a progressive disorder of the Central Nervous System (CNS) that affects the body’s motor functioning. Some people with Parkinson’s disease may develop dementia in later stages of the illness through the accumulation of Lewy Bodies.


The Stages Of Dementia
There are several stages that one should anticipate when preparing to create an outline of what is needed for one’s care in terms of finances, services and products. The list below will help you understand what to expect in the following stages:

Stage 1: The Early onset
During this stage, an individual can live a reasonably normal life. The dementia individual may experience short-term memory loss and he/she may misplace, forget and lose things from time to time. During this stage, dementia is not easily diagnosed.

Stage 2: Mild
The individual starts experiencing significant short-term memory and impairment of self-care tasks that require more complex thinking skills, including organisational skills such as managing finances – e.g. paying bills and managing financial assets. Another symptom to take note of are personality changes such as a sudden lack of motivation.

Stage 3: Moderate
Apart from prior symptoms, the individual will experience difficulty with basic Activities of Daily Living (ADL) routines that people tend do every day without needing assistance such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring (walking) and continence. At this stage, the individual is extremely dependent and require close supervision.

Stage 4: Severe
By this stage, the individual requires constant 24-hour care in ADL routines. They are unable to use or understand words, recognize family member, find their way home. They are unable to walk.

Care & Estimated Costs
Estimating the amount of financial resources required for dementia care is difficult as the cost varies depending according to dependency and needs. However, it helps to know what are the resources available and their estimate cost to better gauge dementia care expenditure.

1. Day Care Centres
Adult Day Care Centres are a viable option to seek assistance that helps the dementia individual maintain their mental health via programmes and activities, while the working adult caregiver is away from the home.

Adult Day Care Centres can charge an estimate of RM100 per day. This works out to approximately RM24,000 annually if the individual attends day care for 20 days per month. However, it should be recognised that day care centres are not able to accommodate individuals in the later stages of the dementia.

2. Caregivers
Unlike a domestic worker, a professional caregiver is fully trained to handle matters regarding caregiving. Hiring a trained caregiver would typically cost between RM15 – RM25 an hour on a daily basis. This adds up to caregiving expenses ranging from RM2,000 to RM2,800 per month.

3. Nursing Homes
Almost all nursing homes are not equipped for those stricken with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Most would not charge additionally since dementia individuals do not require more care than other nursing home residents.

According to research conducted by Care Matters in 2014, the cost for staying in a nursing home could range from RM1,200 – RM2,600 a month for basic care services in a semi-private room, while a private room is about RM2,650 to RM3,500 a month. Bear in mind that sharing a room is not always an option for individuals with an aggressive nature due to dementia.

4. Daily Expenses, Consumables & Medical Check-Ups
Effective in 2017, the EPF has revised their figures regarding daily expenses an individual should be able to afford for 20 years. The EPF website stated the new minimum threshold provided is now RM950 per month. Furthermore, on-going medication and medical check-ups is at least RM235 per session with a Specialist Consultant. Additionally, expenditure on consumables such as adult diapers is at least RM400 per month.


Future Prospects
The potential of encountering dementia in our latter years is a real possibility as Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia is said to be one of the most rapidly growing healthcare issue facing the healthcare industry. As ‘baby-boomers’ age and our population continues to live longer, care and supervision of those with a cognitive impairment is predicted to overwhelm our health care system and budget. While there is little in the way of early detection, it is known that dementia doesn’t occur overnight and there is a grace period for us to prepare for its possible occurrence.

Families and those who find themselves facing this predicament can do two things to help relieve the stress so often experienced through the caregiving years – EDUCATE yourselves on the resources for care and the progression of the disease, and PLAN AHEAD.

As a starting point, Malaysians could seek out the Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation of Malaysia (ADFM) at to find educational resources, support groups, events and workshops that would help provide insight on the condition.


First Published: Smart Investor, October 2017

Written By: Aged Care Group

Affordable Housing

Paying For Aged Care: Supporting Ageing-In-Place With Healthcare & Affordable Housing

As property prices rise, the topic of affordable housing becomes an increasing concern. Factor in the growth of the ageing population and you’ve got new variables to consider when planning anything from policies to finance, housing and infrastructure. To overlook these factors is to invite a slew of social issues. As such, it is more urgent than ever to bridge the healthcare-housing divide.

In our previous article “Paying for Aged Care: The Trends & Challenges”, we discussed how the appropriate placement of seniors with the right level of care is essential to effectively managing the cost of long-term care. Whilst in “Paying For Aged Care: Can Malaysians Afford it?”, we’ve identified accessibility to care is a need regardless of lifestyle.

Affordable housing is more than merely the ability to pay off the house loan. It’s also being able to meet long-term care costs – such as assisted daily living, rehab and medical care – when needed, apart from basic living needs like food, clothing and transportation.

So the question is: how can housing for seniors be made an affordable affair?

Preference For Age-In-Place
Malaysians have a cultural preference to age in one’s own home. We would rather remain in our communities with family, friends and neighbors for as long as possible during our old age. Yet many homes and communities lack key structural features that enables seniors to live there safely and independently.

Meanwhile, family members often provide the backbone of the informal long-term care routine at home, becoming caregivers and financing the senior’s care. It costs no small amount to pay for long-term care services and support when the senior requires assistance with daily living tasks.

Hence, while ageing-in-place is cost-effective, it is only so if the challenges in our care delivery’s efficiency – which naturally affects the cost – is addressed. To respond to these challenges and create affordable housing that supports seniors – and by extension their caregivers – we must more tightly link our nation’s housing and healthcare system under an integrated care model.

Home & Continuum Care
An integrated care model for ageing-in-place is a concept much practiced in developed countries. The model integrates a network of formal home care and respite care services with day care centres, as well as nursing homes into the community – catering to moderate and severe needs alike. Continuum care is a chain of services provided seamlessly from the moment one needs care till he/she no longer requires it is.

Embedding continuum care into communities would enable better utilisation of financial resources when households seek out care services, thus mitigating unnecessary spending arising from inappropriately allocation of care. In developed countries, day care centres are cost-effective alternatives to nursing homes.

For example, Singapore builds many senior activity centres and care centres as part of their initiatives for ageing-in-place within the community. The regulators aim to develop a range of aged-care services in every neighborhood to meet the social and healthcare needs of seniors, as well as to support their caregivers. This would also allow families to remain in close contact with the seniors while they are being cared for within their community.

As Malaysia is very much similar to Singapore, community-based day care centres would fit comfortably in our own integrated care model of aged-care facilities. Day care services would not only delay the need for entry into a nursing home or care centre, it is also a less costly route for seniors and their families to maintain their well-being if compared to home care – which can be more expensive due to the provision of personalized and skilled services at home. It’s a bonus that active seniors can enjoy social interactions with friends and neighbors, and learn new things to maintain positive mental and emotional health.

Setting Up The Pieces
In order to bring together a cohesive and comprehensive integrated care model while tightly linking our nation’s homes to the resulting network of continuum care, Malaysia’s stakeholders – public and private sectors alike – need to spur development of facilities, care services and new standards to uphold.

There are some day care centres for seniors set up by the Malaysian Department of Social Welfare throughout the country, however, the number are still too low and insufficient to cater to our growing ageing population. More day care centres within the community need to be built and operated by non-governmental organisations and business from the private sector.

Policy makers need to look into incentives for operators to set up more day care centres, while new standards for professional home care services – delivered by licensed home care operators – need to be designed in a manner that encourages provision of quality services at an affordable price. This would not only naturalise the use of these services by families as their first option, but also minimise the strain on limited government financial resources.

We also need to look into developing financial mechanisms that encourage sustainability of families to continually participate in the continuum care cycle. Financial support from the family may not always be possible due to the shrinking size of Malaysian families and emigration of grown children, as well as the possibility that family members may run out of money.

Examples of such mechanisms to ensure sustainability could be in the form of:

  • a means-test that determines how much subsidy each senior would be eligible for,
  • financial counseling and advisory initiatives to help families make better informed decisions regarding their ability to sustain payment for long-term care services. Or,
  • a compulsory long-term care insurance.

Time waits for no man, so does ageing. The question is if Malaysians can meet ageing prepared and on our own terms. The context of affordable housing has changed and the demand for ageing population is significant. We want quality communities in which to age well and enjoy life, free from deprivation of basic human needs. If we wish to age in acceptable terms, improved collaborations and efforts between stakeholders, regulators and the private sector is not only necessary, progress also needs to hasten as the window to come up with an integrated system that better connects our housing and healthcare grows short.



Source: Smart Investor, September 2017

Written By: Aged Care Group

*Quotation Source:
Yip, C. (2017). Provision of Long-Term Care and Payment Options for Elderly People Living in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Malaysia (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Figshare Database. (MD5: 27fe2fa9e373fd58476ef48896a524c1)


Paying for Care: Can Malaysians Afford it?

The retirement lifestyle is all the rage these days. Based on The Star’s “Yes to villages, no if it’s expensive” report on 9th July 2017, people are beginning to view the idea of moving into retirement villages and communities that have aged care facilities – such as senior day care centres – as an acceptable lifestyle option, so long as it is affordable.

While choosing either to age in your own home or move into a retirement village is a matter of lifestyle choices – the fact is: receiving care isn’t a lifestyle, it is a need and it becomes greater as we move further along in age.

In the same report, many Malaysians express concern about whether these facilities and services are affordable as not all Malaysians will have enough savings for their old age. The general consensus being to forgo these facilities and services if they are too expensive.

However, the need for care still remains despite the lack of finances. A person with a debilitating condition – either with no family members or ones that aren’t able to care for him/her – would need to check into a nursing home.

Hence, while the retirement lifestyle is nice to have, ensuring you can receive care is a must. So the real question is: how can Malaysians afford to pay for their long-term care when they need it.

In the previous issue on “Paying for Aged Care: The Trends & Challenges”, it was identified that the major hindrance of care delivery is the existing payment options within Malaysia’s infrastructure. In defining that, we now examine the opposite spectrum that looks into the factors that impede Malaysians from being able to pay for long-term care. This is specifically in the context of nursing homes where one’s need for long-term care is at its greatest.

Financial Capability & Long Term-Care
While the infrastructure to pay for long-term care has its challenges, Malaysians also need to be proactive. We need to review our financial capability, learn to save and invest our money for old, and identify the factors that could hinder our ability to pay for long-term care.

In a recent study on “Provision of Long-Term Care and Payment Options for Elderly People Living in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Malaysia” (*Yip, 2017), a research on the financial capabilities of Malaysian seniors to pay for long-term care was conducted.

With a sample size of 419 seniors whose age ranged between 65 – 84 years old and living in nursing homes, care centres and at home, the outcome of the study indicated:

• 75.5% were unable to pay for their care needs,
• 10.6% have just enough money to pay for care if their needs are prolonged,
• 7.2% have savings but need financial assistance if care needs are prolonged, whilst
• 6.5% indicated they have more than enough money to last for as long as necessary.

The 75.5% were unable to pay for their care is because they did not have savings in the bank to pay for the required services. Regardless of ethnicity, there are 4 factors that contribute to the inability of this significant percentage of the senior participants to finance their long-term care needs on their own. These factors are namely:

1. The Gender Factor
Gender is one of the variables that may affect one’s ability to save and pay for care. It is possible that women – be it for traditional reasons or otherwise – may be more financially dependent on their spouses and family members. For example, if a woman undertakes motherhood they may stay at home to take care of their children instead of retaining employment. Thus, affecting their future ability to pay for care in their golden years.

Further evidence to substantiate the gender factor was in terms of percentage more senior males seem to have more than enough money to pay for care needs as compared to female elderly. The ratio being 10.14% versus 5.33%.

2. Age Defining Factor that Affects Payment Ability
There is a strong correlation between the senior’s age and their ability to pay for their long-term care needs. The study revealed that as a person ages, their ability to pay for their care decreases. The number of seniors who don’t have savings at all increases significantly to more than 80% after age 75.

Furthermore, the small number of seniors who have more than sufficient funds to pay for care needs decreases as the age group rises. These results affirm the fact that longer life spans does increase financial risks due to age.

3. Previous Occupation
The third factor lies in the senior’s previous occupation – depending on whether they worked in the public sector, private sector, or are self-employed. Where the individual worked or what was his/her previous employment prior to retirement matters as it determines the senior’s ability to save and make money in preparation for their golden years. This will undermine the impact on how long can their funds last to pay for their long-term care needs.

According to the findings, seniors who used to be employees (73.87%), self-employed (80.95%) and housewives (80.19%) are found to have the greatest risk of not having any savings at all to pay for their care needs. Meanwhile, those who owned a business (10.71%) and worked for the government as civil servants (11.76%) have a relatively better ability to pay for their care needs.

4. Children
Within a typical traditional family setting, having many children is a blessing. As such, parents need to have a high financial capability to accumulate and grow their wealth in order to provide for their children during their developmental years.

The study’s results showed that more than 90% of seniors in need of care depend on family members for financial support. Filial piety is a deeply rooted value in Malaysian culture, so some would expect children to eventually take care of their parents in old age. However, there is no guarantee that they would or could do so – financially or otherwise – for various reasons.

Out of the group of seniors without children, 91.30% still needed financial support from family members. Only 34.78% of this grouping has their own savings to pay for care, while 32.61% possess other income sources to pay it. Hence, the assumption that people without children are more financially well-off to pay for their long-term care doesn’t appear to be true either.

Regardless if you have children or none, it is imperative for you to plan and accumulate enough wealth for your long-term care.

Whilst there are reports and research findings which are complementary to the idea and development of retirement villages, the income security of seniors needs to be addressed given the higher cost of living coupled with the increased number of seniors left to fend for themselves due to an ageing demographic.

Hence, industry players must be pragmatic and proactive in their approach when undertaking the task to develop a financially affordable aged care ecosystem in Malaysia. Meanwhile, Malaysians must reflect on the factors that hinder their financial capability to pay for long-term care and then arm themselves with the necessary financial knowledge and money management skills to save money and invest in assets that generate income for their long-term care.



Source: Smart Investor, August 2017

Written By: Aged Care Group

*Quotation Source:
Yip, C. (2017). Provision of Long-Term Care and Payment Options for Elderly People Living in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Malaysia (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Figshare Database. (MD5: 27fe2fa9e373fd58476ef48896a524c1)

Taiwan's Elderly Care

Through The Lens Of Taiwan’s Elderly Care

Taiwan is considered more advanced in its elderly care services and is said to be facing a social time bomb as its population ages. However for a country such as Malaysia which is still making headway in addressing its ageing populations needs, it was certainly a welcomed sight to know what they have put in place.

A recent visit to Taiwan by Aged Care Group (ACG) offered a good insight into the aged lifestyle as we were introduced to the various living conditions built to cater to this growing demographics – apartments for elderly, a village concept for those who are still active and independent, an integrated service centre, community day care centre as well as privately owned facilities that are equipped with smart technology solutions that provide assistance to daily living for the elderly.

What was evident is the planning and thought process that was put forward in the design development of the places which can be segregated into 2 models “ageing in retirement village or apartment” and “ageing in place”. Taking a closer look into these living conditions – what is evident is that both models have its advantages.

Taiwan’s Elderly Care

1. Ageing in retirement village or apartment model

Ruen Fu New Life Retirement Home and Chang Gung Health & Cultural Village in Taipei. They are both Independent Living Unit (ILU) run by the private sector. Looking into their service offerings, they come with well-equipped facilities and age friendly environment.

Ruen Fu New Life Retirement Home location is just next to Tamkang University in Taipei, which is next to the school district, provides a lively feel where elderly could easily connect with the students. Their activities is held in a hotel-like complex space, where it split into different section such as gym room, mahjong area, reading area, performing stage etc. In term of security, they are providing security access card control system, 24 hours emergency call service, infrared sensing system in room. On health management side, they have 24-hours nurses on standby, providing clinic appointment, health information and health talk.

Chang Gung Health & Cultural Village is located in a more rural and remote area in New Taipei City which comes with a big piece of land. Its unique feature is that the outdoor spaces are accessible and open for residents and non-residents, trails for walks and fields within the plantation as well as engaging with the youngsters – watching them play basketball etc. There are also free classes for the residents to participate – calligraphy, computer, language, dance, drawing etc.

In term of security, residents are connected to the hospital monitoring system. Every building is equipped with nurse station and sphygmomanometer station, let their resident do their own blood pressure checking.

Chang Gung also using security access card control system but the card also functions as a debit card and stores personal health records. For example, the resident can debit all their food expenses by scanning their card, every time the resident wish to perform a blood pressure check also have to scan their card first, so that their health status will be recorded.

Those who reside in the retirement village or apartment are those who financially able as they pay a monthly rental with quite a hefty deposit.

What was noticeable for both the retirement apartment and village are that their staff are very friendly which is shown through the services and care offered. This makes the elderly feel at home with the warmth they feel and you can see that trust within their hearts as they are constantly having a smile on their face.

2. Ageing- in- place model

Ageing-in-place is a concept where an elderly ages within the comfort of their own home.

The Government of Taiwan have been promoting ageing-in-place since 2007 under their “Long Term Care 1.0” plan. After 10 years of implementing it, they are now enhanced into “Long Term Care 2.0”. This plan promotes a community based long-term care system which provides affordable care services to its residents. Government will subsidy the lower income group to access to the services.

Under their “Long Term Care 2.0”, they are expanding their 8 services to 17 services which includes daycare, transportation, home nursing, home (community) rehab, respite care, dementia care, caregiver support group, long term care service centre, small scale multifunction services centre etc.

The senior integrated service centre was built by the Taiwan Kaohsiung City Government to bridge the gap in social inclusion for the elderly. The centre brings together the elderly through leisure activities, learning programmes with daycare facilities and is even catered for those with Dementia. They have different classes and facility where all the active elderly can take part and interact with each other. The day care services not only providing the suitable & proper care for the elderly, but also helping adult children to ease their burden during working hours, while they can still bring parents back to home afterward.

While the senior integrated services centre serves as headquarters, there are also small scale multifunction services centre (satellite community care centres) in different residential areas set up. The function of community care centre is to provide daycare and homecare services within the community. The Kaohsiung City Government is working towards providing comprehensive services to allow ageing-in-place by integrating social activities into the care provision similar to what the retirement villages and apartments specific for the elderly.

It was a welcomed sight to watch the Taiwan elderlies enjoy the activities and services offered by the government. Throughout the whole visit, some of the elderlies also were excited to show us their works or what they learnt from the programmes.

The staffs informed us classes like dancing, calligraphy, ink painting are all hot in demand classes, where elderly need to wait for their turn to learn. Age doesn’t limit the passion of learning for those elderly, and yet they choose to visit services centre rather than just sitting at home – something that we Malaysians take note of.

3. Technology is an important enabler when it comes to ageing.

Imagine our living place is the hardware, the services or activities are the software, and technology is the lubricant that enables the seamless process.

Stipendiary Taiwan is a continuum care centre where daycare, short term stay, home nursing and homecare are embedded into their service offerings. Looking into their diversity of elderly and the care provision, technology plays a critical component where the utilisation of an IOT security smart environment with GPS to track elderly movement in particular spaces. Their wearable devices able to track elderly health status, smart mattress with motion sensor able to prevent elderly from falling down when they get out from bed. They have also progressed into developing their own Smart device solutions to compile and manage the process of homecare & home nursing services through app. It is a system to locate the people who need care and the status of care provider.

Like what we see from the retirement villages or apartments, both are using technology for security purposes, Chang Gung Health & Cultural Village even use the access card as debit card and health status recorder. What can be said that a successful formula in enhancing the quality and provision of care for our elderly would be that technology is the key enabler.

What we can learn from Taiwan

A survey done by ACG in 2015 shows that the top reason for why the elderly chose to stay in a nursing home or care centre is the lack of family support at home and family members not having the relevant caregiving skills to take care of them.

In other words, elderly would like to stay in their home, where they can always spend time with family——the rationale behind it is the Asian value and culture where we wish to look after our parents, and wish to stay with our family members until we passed away.

However, things just don’t turn out the way you want, the level of care that the elderly need might change overnight, which then requires them to need constant health monitoring.

That is also what Taiwan Government trying to achieve through their Long Term Care Plan, where elderly don’t need to leave the confines of their home or community, but a service team will be despatched to visit you.

Taiwan experience show that retirement villages and apartments have all the proper “in house” facilities and services, but the deposit and rental for staying there is definitely higher than staying at home; The costs for ageing- in-place is more affordable, but it can only work when there is a strong homecare and social service team just like the support provided by Kaohsiung City Government.

Another important element that we can learn from Taiwan is their “Human Touch”- how the staff or service team communicate or interact with elderly. This is the most important aspect that we should have whether you are running a community based services centre or retirement village, it is about creating a feeling for elderly that they are chatting, playing or eating with family member, not a stranger.

Ageing- in-place or ageing in a retirement village is about choices and options, they are pros and cons but in term of volume of people who will get immediate benefit, ageing- in-place seems like a model that can bring immediate impact to Malaysians. By embracing technology—— developing a homecare system or app to enable the whole process, could make ageing- in-place even better.

Although Malaysia is moving toward to ageing nation, but our facilities and services requires a lot of improvement. As sources are limited and to ensure that we are well prepared as our nation ages, bringing together the public and private parties in a collaborative effort would be something that really needs to be driven forward. As the saying goes- “One hand alone can’t clap, it takes two to make a difference”. Let’s work towards a better tomorrow not only for ourselves but also for our generations to come.

Payment Options

Paying For Aged Care: Trends & Challenges

Flip open the newspaper and you will likely find an article related to seniors – the care required, their living condition, struggles, healthcare, etc. Recently, The Star published an article on the need for laws that protect the rights of seniors in Malaysia as various social dilemmas – such as abandonment – have arisen from the lack of it. These social tensions are signs that our aged care system is being stretched by the growing needs of an ageing population.

Malaysia need laws that not only covers senior citizen’s rights, but also define the roles of stakeholders; from the state, the community, family members and service providers – such as long term residential and care homes, day care centres, housing developments, transportation, commercial outlets, etc. – alike. This requires all parties to be on the same page. It is clear our aged care system cannot sustain our needs. Hence, we must understand current aged care trends to determine what types of care services are needed and how to sustainably deliver it.

Trends & Payment Modes
As we age, the possibility of needing some form of long-term care is evident. Beyond the initial stages of care during hospitalisation, long-term care (also known as LTC) comprises a variety of services with the purpose of meeting both medical and non-medical needs of people with chronic illnesses/disabilities and are unable to care for themselves for long periods of time. It can be provided at home, in the community and in assisted living facilities like nursing homes and care centres.

As far as trends go, there is an increasing need for expertise by professionals to address multiple chronic conditions often associated with seniors in the provision of long-term care. Likewise, the need for non-medical care such as Activities of Daily Living (or ADL) – which involves activities such as feeding, bathing, dressing and handling of ‘nature call’ issues – is increasing. However, unlike medical care, funding options for non-medical care is not easily available.

In Malaysia, the care that is needed and provided to seniors are delivered through government welfare homes, private nursing homes & day-care centres, voluntary aged-care centres, or by families at home. Naturally, this mix of delivery channels and agents would result in each option having very different funding bases.

The finance options available to seniors to pay for long-term care services include: the individual’s own savings, their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) accounts, pension scheme, investments, government welfare and other sources of income like investments and business income. However, unlike developed countries such as Japan, there are no risk-pooling arrangements such as social insurance and tax-based funding for long-term care available in Malaysia.

As can be inferred by the nature of our available options (apart from government welfare), Malaysians generally make out-of-pocket payments to finance their own or a family member’s long-term care needs.

As a result of financing their care support, there is a noticeable trend in the growth of self-directed (or consumer-directed) services. Despite the obvious challenges inherent with an aged care system largely reliant on individuals making self-funded payments for care, the results of self-directed services grants seniors greater independence and control over their lifestyle choices.

However, while the trend of these self-directed purchases of services are believed to improve the quality of care while simultaneously being cost effective due to the supply and demand economic model, we need to work out the kinks and flaws in Malaysia’s aged care infrastructure – namely our payment options – to fully capitalise on its strengths and minus the weaknesses. The specific challenges inherent in our payment options lie in these four areas:

1. Lack of Representation When Impaired
The benefits of the self-directed payment approach are appealing. It not only provides consumers with greater lifestyle choices and higher accountability in the services supplied, it’s also attractive to some governments due to its links with market-oriented mechanisms.

However, the drawbacks lie in monitoring and purchasing of services, which hinges on the purchaser’s health and mental condition. If the purchaser is frail or mentally impaired and without family support, their bargaining power relative to service providers is compromised and may risk exploitation by service providers as well. Furthermore, this approach does not offer a guaranteed care provision “until end of life” for all individuals.

2. Education & Employment
One of the main factors affecting our Malaysian seniors’ financial resources is due to the low educational attainment, which impacts their ability to save for old age. It is compounded further when their chances of improving their economic conditions become increasingly limited as they get older and their capacity to work diminishes.

3. Insufficient Savings & The Sandwich Generation

Constant reports from the EPF stated that Malaysians aren’t saving enough for retirement and old age. When funds from their EPF accounts are exhausted, family members often become the main welfare provider – both financially and in providing social support to the senior.

Furthermore, the “Sandwich Generation” trend are also linked with the senior’s inability to accumulate sufficient savings or for the savings to last throughout retirement. Due to changes in family size and economic conditions such as higher cost of living (e.g. high prices for housing), Adult children find themselves taking care of their aged parents expenses in addition to raising their own children. In some cases, the senior parents also providing financial support to adult children.

4. Too New To Collect Results
In 2012, the Malaysian government introduced the Private Retirement Scheme (PRS). The objective was to improve living standards for retired Malaysians through additional fund savings. However, as the PRS was implemented six years ago, the effectiveness of this initiative is still too early to assess as an avenue of long-term care funding for elderly Malaysians.

What Lies Beneath
Regardless of overcoming the abovementioned challenges, developing better payment options would be mooted if the practice of inappropriate allocation of care is not addressed. As a senior’s care needs intensifies as they age and medical inflation rises, the appropriate placement of seniors is all the more paramount. When they are accorded the right level of care – which meets the minimum standards required by the regulators – the senior’s financial resources are more likely to be utilised optimally.

This is especially important in managing long-term care costs as it can be difficult to measure due to the nature of the care required by the senior. When costs are not properly managed, the quality of long-term care services may be significantly affected. Additionally, inefficient delivery of long-term care may also affect the price of services delivered and this could lead to the senior being unable to pay for the care needed on a sustained basis.

In Taiwan for example, it is found that care at home was cost-effective for people with “medium” physical disability, but became expensive for people with higher levels of disability when compared with nursing home care. Such findings raise issues about the relationship link between needs and actual care received.

Ultimately, the changing climate in Malaysia’s ageing needs dictates that our current infrastructure and practices cannot remain at status quo. New payment options for long-term care (or at the very least, a revision of our old ones) and the environment required for these options to flourish needs to be investigated, deliberated and developed.

Much of the efforts by the Malaysian government to implement avenues for retirement, and by extension aged care, are still relatively new and time will tell if these efforts are effective. However, for the foreseeable future the challenges that lies ahead for Malaysia is firstly a pension reform. We need a review of social protection for the purpose of preventing poverty for our ageing population and develop a plan that provides adequate benefits that includes long-term care.

This is because a full replacement of income for retirement cannot be obtained purely from one single source or scheme but different tiers must be incorporated so that full replacement can be achieved.

Secondly, we need a total structural adjustment of the economy to cater to Malaysia’s ageing needs. As industry players, we need to ensure that future developments in ageing policies should include the provision of better care services with more uptake to enable cost-effectiveness.

Finally, greater efforts to evenly distribute aged care services and facilities between cities and country areas to ensure no one is neglected.



Source: Smart Investor, July 2017

Written By: Aged Care Group

puzzle to represent social protection aspects

Social Protection For A Senior Inclusive Malaysia

A conversation with the Director of University Malaya’s Social Security Research Centre, Professor Datuk Norma Mansor discussing the drivers of poverty and vulnerability affecting Malaysian seniors and social protection endeavours to mitigate their social exclusion.

International Living’s guide to the ‘World’s Best Places to Retire in 2017’ places Malaysia at number 6 in rankings, describing two of the main reasons Malaysia is worthy of the rank. The first being our world-class facilities while maintaining a low cost of living and secondly, the excellent healthcare due to having some of the best-trained doctors in Asia.

While these facts make the ideal retirement paradise for foreign retirees, the reality is different for the majority of Malaysians. Many have come into contact with the aged care system and are often left wanting, not for lack of the aforementioned reasons, but due to the lack of the necessary mechanisms that advocate social inclusiveness of our own senior citizens.

Social inclusion as defined by the United Nations is as a process by which societies combat poverty and social exclusion. A socially inclusive society is one where all people within the community feel valued, their differences are respected, and their basic needs are met so they can live in dignity. On the opposite spectrum, social exclusion shuts one out from the social, economic, political and cultural systems which contribute to the integration of a person into the community.

As it is, Malaysia’s large ageing population in general – which continues to grow annually – struggles to access sustainable healthcare. Break it down further and the statistics indicates even more differences. As such, understanding the ageing populations’ dynamics is critical to developing policies that not only positively impact our elderly’s social protection, but also on their perpetuating factors of poverty and vulnerability.

Malaysian communities in effectively addressing them can partake in the social, economic, political and cultural dividends reaped from senior inclusivity. In our interview with Professor Datuk Norma, we discuss the existing factors of social exclusion that prevents – or at least, restricts – Malaysian seniors from fully partaking in these benefits, and the initiatives undertaken by the Social Research Security Centre to promote better social protection for Malaysian seniors.


The Drivers of Poverty & Vulnerability

Data recorded by the Household Income and Expenditure (HIES) survey in 2009 indicated that 9% of seniors are living below the national poverty income line (PLI). The survey also indicates that 12% of head of households (whose families have seniors in their care) and 17% of the family members of seniors are living below the poverty line.

According to Professor Datuk Norma, the findings have also indicated significant differences between seniors living in rural and urban areas, namely in areas such as education attainment and employment opportunities. Ethnicity and household status also play a role in differentiating their respective social and economic difficulties, making certain groups of seniors particularly vulnerable to poverty and restricting accessibility to healthcare.

“The urban – rural gap in poverty has not been fully addressed. Poverty is still 3 times higher among the elderly in the rural area compared to urban areas.” says Professor Datuk Norma.

In a survey conducted by the Social Security Research Centre – which include a research sample of 518 Malaysians aged 40 years and above – it was noted that the areas which required greater concerted effort to help Malaysians cope with ageing and enjoy quality of life lies in financial economic stability and health problems – which were rated at 45% and 35% respectively.

Concern for the future of their children/grandchildren were also highlighted, indicating difficulty to accumulate sufficient savings for retirement due to the ‘Sandwich Generation Cycle’ trend – i.e. financially providing for both children and their own parents.


Investing in Human Capabilities & Productive Capacity

To adequately address the ageing population’s diversified needs more comprehensively whilst tackling the issue of education attainment and employment opportunities, the research centre has made proposals based on these findings to call for developing policies that strengthen the rural areas by funding new agricultural projects and improving infrastructure as well as rural-urban connections.

The proposed suggestions include investing in rural tourism and development to attract tourists through agricultural festivals and reconstructed historical sites. The proposal aims to develop arural transportation system that link to major cities to promote greater demand. However, these policies must be measured and developed using an asset-based approach as opposed to an income-based one.

“When things were tied to an income-based approach it becomes inaccurate because many things are not captured when it is only focused on income.”

Professor Datuk Norma stated these policies should be designed using an asset-based approach as it is ultimately more productive. When assets such as social, human, physical, natural and financial capital is provided during the working age period, the vulnerability to poverty will not be an issue for the rural population once they reached old age.


Financial Saving Mechanisms & Other Initiatives

In regards to savings accumulation and financial stability, the centre is currently conducting research on savings adequacy to address the mechanisms and circumstances surrounding financial economic stability during active ageing. They have also undertaken a research project on social protection coverage that is focused on ASEAN countries.

“Malaysia is in a situation where we can still plan well for active ageing, as we still have the productive group – those who are 25 to 60 years old – whom we can reap from as population dividend. So we can still save in order for us to prepare for active ageing” Professor Datuk Norma.

However, she further states that social protection for the ageing population includes addressing many diverse aspects of social inclusion such as the labour force, social insurance and development. Therefore, the centre is currently looking to work with and support initiatives from any sector that fall within the field of social protection.


Ageism as a Social Inclusion Impediment

On the issue of ageism in Malaysia, Professor Datuk Norma stated one of the centre’s future projects will be looking into the aspect of post-retirement employment and the many labour issues involved.

“When you talk about employing people post- retirement, there are many labour issues involved such as contracts – whether it is formal or informal and etc. In Malaysia, ageism is not seen as discrimination because we have a clear defined mandatory retirement age of 60. We are still coming up with the blueprint for ageing and how to prepare for it in Malaysia. When more people start being aware of these things, policy-makers will be pushed to look into it as well. It is urgent and critical we do so in terms of policies.”

She also stated that this, along with the issue of using asset-based approaches in policies to curb poverty in rural-urban ageing, will be brought forward and discussed with the Social Protection Council, which was established by Cabinet in October last year.

“Malaysia is slowly becoming a matured society and growth cannot be at the rate that we used to experience in the past. We need to think in the long run and how are we going to add value to our society.”


Business Ideas

Business Ideas: Why Being Senior Inclusive Adds Value

Move over millennials! This is how and why you should market to seniors.
Father’s Day celebrations are just around the corner, we can feel it when our mailbox starts filling up with promotional brochures, flyers and even special events catered just for Dads. The only way that retailers and business are able to run campaigns are during special occasions but what if there is an opportunity to look into a specific demographic as we move towards an ageing nation. How often do businesses engage as well as reach out to the matured and elderly? How often are business ideas senior inclusive?

The answer might vary due to industry differences, but what is transparent is as the population ages, there would be an opportunity for businesses to fill in the gap if they were to stay relevant and competitive. Businesses must move towards marketing that subtly appeal to an ageing demographic.

As human beings we need attention, love and care from others no matter which stage of life or what age we are. It seems our worth suddenly plummets when we enter the life stage where society puts the “elderly” tag on us. At best, society in general starts to assume that they know what the elderly need and what they don’t. At worst, it starts to ignore their needs, desires and even forget that they too need people to socialise with, and an environment to interactive with.

We should not exclude the elderly from daily interaction, but include them in social activities or events. Social inclusion plays a big role in enhancing or maintaining our overall wellbeing.

According to United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Social inclusion refers to social integration or social cohesion, representing a vision of “a society for all” in which every individual – each with rights and responsibilities – have an active role to play.

The Generation Game – Catering to Asia’s Future Life Stages” from Mintel revealed:
• That older lifestyles need change and that this often ignored consumer segment presents a lot of opportunities for companies that take the effort to find out the needs of older consumers.

• One of the best things brands can do is to stop ignoring older consumers as a potentially lucrative market in countries across Asia.

• Elderly Asians are increasingly enjoying their leisure time, finding new hobbies or learning new skills, while taking the opportunity to travel more and further afield.

“A society for all” without ignoring the elderly, should be the aim for all the industry players, retailers and advertisers because they will be able to reap “longevity dividend”.

While there is huge scope to work on in fulfilling the demand for products and services that are suited to the elderly needs in Asia, there should be a conscious change of mindset and perception towards the elderly and creating “a society for all”. Individuals, groups and institutions have to be interconnected to create a social system, maintain and enhance the relationship in a harmonious way.

Trends on ageing have shown that the belief whereby age does not create limitations to lifestyle is growing rapidly. have stated that this ideal is key to tapping into the elderly market: catering to an ageing demographic by providing comfort, independence and most importantly, the added merit that ageing is no longer a limitation.

In this endeavour, some organisations have taken the big step towards making the change, especially within the social networks considering initiatives are already being undertaken. For example, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur recently launched their Pavilion Silver Société programme, targeting Malaysian who are 55 years old and above. They offer members with leisure experiences, special celebrations and even discounts. Moreover, they’ve even partnered with Managedcare – a one-stop platform to find care services for care needs – to offer selected care services on discount. The social awareness of recognising the elderly as valued members of society with needs of their own is slowly taking root, but we need to be speedier on the uptake.

More Initiatives and programmes – similar to the Pavilion Silver Société – that shines the spotlight on the elderly to engage them will go a long way in weeding out their social exclusion from society and ultimately, enable them to live the lifestyle they wish to.

Man reaching for money bills under a box representing scams

Scams: Why do we fall for it?

A conversation with Raymon Ram, Founder & Lead Consultant at FAFE Management Consultancy and Certified Fraud Examiner, discussing the motivations that lead to falling prey to scams.

With the recent collapse of the 20% – ROI JJPTR scheme and the arrest of Johnson Lee, it would seem that the JJTPR episode is drawing to a close. However, the plot isn’t over by a long shot. Prior to Johnson’s arrest, media interviews with existing investors of the scheme seem keen to reinvest when Johnson stated the development of a new JJPTR plan, promising 35% ROI rates despite claims of losing RM500 million to hacking.

The JJPTR scheme is not the first, nor will it be the last case of fraud and scams. More of such cases will only continue in different forms – repackaged under different names – so long as the various factors that not only motivate fraudsters to commit the crime, but also ensure potential investors facilitate their own victimhood, are left unaddressed.

Based on his experience as a Certified Fraud Examiner and an advocate against Economic Crime, we interviewed Raymon Ram to elaborate on the factors that have investors falling prey to fraud and its ramifications.

Planting the Seeds of a Scam
Apart from having a specific skill-set to pull off a successful fraud, it takes a willingness to deliberately target, deceive and deprive another person’s means of living. So what are the psychological strategies that allow scammers to do what they do?

According to Raymon Ram, scammers often target both internal and external influencers of a person’s decision to take financial risks and make an investment.

“The internal influencers here are “Hope” and “Greed”. There is always hope that things would work out for the best and while such positivity is good, it could backfire for the worse when one does not take a calculated risk. Whereas greed is a trait of always wanting more and not being satisfied with things as they are. This presumably is the reason one looks at gaining better returns in one investment compared to lower promise of returns in others.”

On the other hand, external influencers – such as uncertainties of the current economic climate, rise of the cost of living, inability to maintain lifestyle, living beyond one’s means and financial constraints that may be due to gambling habits or at times the sudden loss of financial support – all play a part in a person’s decision to invest and scammers prey on these hopes, greed and fears to get their target’s buy in.

Creating Our Own Victimhood
The importance of educating oneself with financial literacy programmes and the basics of investment is never more evident in the face of the thousands of get-rich-quick schemes that are being peddled around.

Besides the internal and external influencers that fraudsters prey on to manipulate their targets – or perhaps because of it – people also fall prey to scams due to the inability to understand the full mechanics behind the investment scheme. An accompanying factor propagates this lack of understanding lies in trusting the endorsement of products by public figures or celebrities without doing their own research. Thus, setting themselves up for disaster by being unwilling to look closely at the details.

“An example would be Bernie Madoff, who scammed billions off intellectuals, professionals, celebrities, politicians and regular everyday Joes alike. People turned a blind eye to the mechanics behind the scheme or even legitimacy of what was happening due to the background of other investors and figures that were backing his company at that moment” says Raymon.

Programmed To Being Scammed?
Why do people keep getting scammed again and again despite the red flags? Some may be inclined to say that if you haven’t learnt your lesson from the first time, you probably deserve it. The reality is much more complicated as there are a number of other reasons that could motivate a person to step right back into the scammers trap.

One such reason would be to recover the monies which had been lost in the earlier investment. Such desperation could be caused by the fact that a loan was taken to invest the earlier sum. In the case of a retired senior, the money could have been taken out of a retirement fund or their EPF, leaving them to believe there is no choice but to reinvest the balance.

“There are groups of individuals who believe that ‘the night is dark right before the dawn’, hoping that things can only get better. Peer pressure plays a huge role as many succumb to the words of their community members, siblings or acquaintances.”

However, seniors should especially be aware of the factors that make them viable targets as they are generally viewed by fraudsters as more vulnerable and profiled as:

• Having accumulated a measure of wealth,
• Are often lonely,
• Have a reliance on family and friends,
• Having deteriorated cognitive ability to make financial decisions.

While the profile may not be applicable to all seniors in some form or another, it is important that seniors take steps to ensure they protect themselves should they find certain profile aspects true.

The Aftermath Devastation
While being positive about an investment is good, it must be checked with obtaining the right information and a realistic outlook from research prior to making an investment. Otherwise, the consequences are dire as the impact affects more than just your finances. It can devastate your mental, emotional and physical well-being.

The scope of the devastation varies depending on where the investment originated. The damage would be even greater if the sum invested had come from someone in need or a loan which could not be serviced. Furthermore, there is a profound sense of hopelessness and violation after being cheated by someone who is trusted.

“This hopelessness is further aggravated if one loses their home or loved one due to the investment. Following that, this will usually lead to self-damaging habits or suicidal thoughts” says Raymon.

Recovery & Closure
Those affected by fraud are often ashamed of the fact that they are unwilling to share their story with others, leading to many cases of fraud going unreported. The reasons for shame varies depending on the social status and position in a community which one holds.

“A person would be more embarrassed to make such disclosure if they are a public figure or social representative which the community looks up to. That said, no one would want to be associated with the words such as cheated, defrauded or corrupted”

However, the community alongside friends and family, should not leave the victims to stay stagnant in their mistakes and encourage them along the road to recovery, whilst urging them to report the scam. The reason is more than simply recovering lost monies, it is also a matter of health.

By not reporting the scam, the event is then internalised and the negative effect of shame heightens, which can then trigger depression and even suicide. It is important for the fraud victim to keep moving forward. While this is difficult, staying stuck in victimhood further destroys self-esteem and the ability to recover.

While recovery of the financial loss is not guaranteed, reporting the scam and shedding light on it to create awareness on the dangers of fraud will help to restore some feeling of control and self-esteem.

When perpetrators of fraud are caught, knowing that their report has enabled justice to be served would help to bring closure and a sense vindication. Being a victim of fraud, one can play a role in creating awareness on such issues as well as being informed, taking heed to what is happening in the news and media by taking precautions prior to embarking into further investments.



Aged Care Group (ACG) is an organisation engaged in the business of elevating and providing aged care services in Malaysia. ACG is driven with a strong vision to advocate innovation and transformation in ageing by offering continuum care as a premium choice for enriched living. We operate in an ecosystem that provides integrated care services and products through meaningful partnerships with individuals, government, organisations and corporations. ACG seeks to be the forerunner in all things related to aged care, building on the years of knowledge and experience of its shared holders and management team. A detailed profile of who we are can be obtained at


Source: Smart Investor, June 2017

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