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Sunrise magazine re-launches as champion for senior citizens


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By Shannon Jayawardena 

The Sunrise magazine was once again officially re-launched since its presence in 2016, by the Sunrise Senior Foundation (SSF) last Wednesday as a champion, fun and information provider for senior citizens across the country. 

The new magazine chaired by SSF Chairman Feizal Samath is to serve the older population catering to one of their main needs as an enthusiastic and informative companion for their often felt loneliness and will be published bi-monthly. 

Minister Wickramaratne said: “Sri Lanka has a very unique problem from a non OECD country as we are ageing and ageing fast but we don’t have the incomes of the OECD. That is going to be the biggest social and economic challenge the country will face in the future. Even if we look at it from South Asian countries, ageing is increasing rapidly. Between 1981 and 2012, the population of over 60 years has increased from 6.6% to 12.4%.”

“As I grew up as a child, I only saw one of my four grandparents and the only grandparent I saw also died when I was a teenager. So basically the increase of life expectancy is because of the improvement of health, the eradication of malaria, better distribution in terms of food supply and so forth. The child population, which is the other way to look at this, was 4.7 million in 2011 and is expected to stabilise at 3.5 million from 2031 to 2041,” he added.

Minister Wickramaratne went on to state that Sri Lanka thereby really faces a big problem. The elderly population which is 1.7 million is expected to be 3.6 million in 2021. In 1981 there was an average of seven persons to provide support for one elderly person and in 2012 it has dropped to four. It is a great cultural value to take care of your parents and even grandparents, however increasingly families now find it hard to take care of their elderly. This puts significant pressure on the national healthcare system and on the national budget. It is a huge challenge but just another phase in life, he insisted. 

One of the biggest challenges of the ageing population is that the process of ageing is increasing rapidly with the world population of over 60 years estimated to reach a total of 2.1 billion by 2050. Likewise Sri Lanka is to see a 29% increase by 2050 and 34% by 2080. In 2041, one in every fourth person is estimated to be over 60 years and by 2050 the over 80 years’ age group will account to more than 5% of the overall population. 

“The SSF will act as a catalyst in campaigning for rights of the ageing population and we will be organising a seminar, workshop in July on ageing and its related issues. The foundation’s role is to create an environment of independence for senior citizens in healthcare, financial services, affordable residential facilities and so forth,” noted Samath.

Likewise the magazine contains content pertaining to policy issues by the state concerning the country’s 60 years and above community, insurance and investment advice, health and medical care, infrastructure in public spaces like banks, government departments, shopping malls, hotels, apartments, to ensure the minimum inconvenience to senior citizens.

It will also include shopping tips, gardening tips for leisure, games, jokes, easy to make food recipes and emergency institutions to contact. The magazine is to fill a largely unfilled need for information for all senior citizens across Sri Lanka. 

WHO Representative to Sri Lanka Dr. Razia Pendse said: “Like most parts of the world, Sri Lanka is also ageing and this is a national process. As healthcare seems to improve, people will live longer. One of the things that the WHO has taken up, is ageing and healthy ageing is very important. When you reach the retirement age, suddenly you find yourself wondering what to do but that’s actually the time that you have gathered life experiences, that’s when the contribution to society is at its peak.”

“It’s a social capital. The other social phenomenon that is happening is that elders are no more looked at as a strong family pillar. With children moving out and families getting more and more nuclear, suddenly you find that you have nothing to do. The mind is still active,” stressed Pendse.

She also emphasised on the fact that the average life expectancy in Sri Lanka is around 80 years. So if one retires at 55, they have close to 25 years more. The feeling of loneliness and the need for company are the elderly population’s main problems. Pendse believes that this magazine will thereby address this range of issues and will be a source of great company. 

The launch was attended by State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne, WHO Representative to Sri Lanka Dr. Razia Pendse, Former Sri Lanka Cricket Captain Michael Tissera, John Keells Holdings Former Chairman Ken Balendra, educationist and social activist Jezima Ismail and several other special guests. 

Pix by Shehan Gunasekara

 


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