CityU announces Hong Kong's first "Positive Ageing Index"

Annie Sing

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The “Positive Ageing Index” (PA Index), the first of its kind in Hong Kong, has revealed that social networks and a positive outlook are crucial to enhancing positive ageing.

Researchers from the Department of Applied Social Studies (SS) at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) revealed their findings on the PA Index at a press conference on 19 January.  

The research study is designed to measure how well people in Hong Kong age. It exemplifies CityU’s continuing efforts to provide quality applied research and make valuable contributions to society by working with the local community.

The study comes at an important transitional period for Hong Kong, said Professor Ng Sik-hung, Professor (Chair) of Social Psychology and Head of SS, the Principal Investigator on the project. “With an ageing population and increasing longevity, Hong Kong is now in a position to shift its attention from prolonging life to enhancing the quality of long life,” he said.

The study indicates that in general Hong Kong people age well. The first “critical” period for a significant decline occurs when people reach 55 years of age, followed by significant dives at 65 and then at 70 years of age.

But the study shows that social network, lifestyle, financial security, humour and a positive outlook can help enhance positive ageing. In particular, a good social network and a positive outlook were particularly powerful factors, Professor Ng said.

He added that people should talk to their neighbours more often and turn to them for support. The study shows that 72% of participants never or seldom develop relationships with their neighbours.

The study also suggests that some people age better than others because they are more financially secure, have more support from family and friends, and have a more positive life-style. Men age better than women, the PA Index reveals.

Professor Ng said the study included people who were middle-aged because it was important to plan ahead from midlife on in order to live life to the full. He said he hoped that the Government and the community would make use of the index for designing policies to enhance people’s quality of life.

The five-point PA Index examines the qualities of long life in terms of

health, functional independence and engagement with life. Higher PA scores mean more successful ageing. The PA Index developed out of a PA longitudinal study in which 2,970 adults aged from 40 to 74 were interviewed between in 2004 and 2005.

Mrs Margie So, one of the research subjects, shared her experience of positive ageing at the press conference. She is the Golden Guide (GG) Group Leader (Headquarters-GG) and Chairman of the GG Groups Activities Organizing Committee. She said she is 77 years old and has been participating in voluntary services for almost 40 years.

In addition to Professor Ng, the following are on the PA Research team: Professor Jean Woo, Professor (Chair) and Head of the Department of Family and Community Medicine from the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Professor Alex Kwan of SS; Dr Alice Chong, Associate Professor of Social Work, SS, and
Associate Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at CityU; and Ms Stephanie Lai, Senior Research Assistant in SS.

The research team is keenly engaged in ageing research and will use the data of this study to serve as a baseline for future comparative studies.


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