The principal aim of this book is to provide a detailed review of the progress and prospects for the development of national policies on ageing and for older persons in selected countries of the Asia–Pacific region. Most countries of the region are ageing quite rapidly in demographic terms, although this is slower in some countries than in others. This demographic ageing of the populations is also occurring in quite dramatically changing social and economic contexts, and some cultural traditions are affecting the nature of policies for older persons.
The selection of countries represents a geographic and demographic spread across the region and, whilst representative, it cannot claim to be comprehensive. The book will not go in to great detail about the nature of and factors underlying demographic change in the region or in the case-study countries, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. It will cover in general terms these factors, as they have important socioeconomic consequences (lower fertility rates, smaller families, increasing life expectancy and the like). For a more comprehensive discussion of the underlying demographic dimensions in the Asia–Pacific region and elsewhere, readers may refer to Kinsella (2000), Kinsella and Velkoff (2001) and HelpAge International (2002).
Instead of focusing on demographic details, the case-study chapters address a number of key issues with regard to national policies on ageing and the provision of long-term care. The handling of these key issues is tailored to each case-study country as appropriate, rather than being treated in a mechanical manner, as the evolution of general policy regarding older persons, and long-term care in particular, is at different stages, and evolving from different contexts, in each country. Prior to outlining the key issues addressed, some basic definitions of national policies and long-term care may be presented.
First, we consider that “policy” may be taken to mean the development of a coherent conceptual framework linking different practices for the achievement of a goal or mission — in this case addressing “ageing” or older persons.