Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Formal and Informal Long-Term Caregiving for the Elderly: The Malaysian Experience

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Formal and Informal Long-Term Caregiving for the Elderly: The Malaysian Experience

Article excerpt


This paper examines the formal and informal caregiving for elderly in the Malaysian society under the absence of a structured long-term care environment. We surveyed 31 health care providers and 56 informal caregivers for elderly. The private for-profit care providers offer better facilities and services than non-profit centres. Females especially daughters were usually the informal caregivers to the elderly. Caregivers spent below USD$330 on long-term care expenses and relying heavily on public health care services. The results suggest government to implement a comprehensive social insurance for long-term care to ensure protection and equal treatment to be received by elderly.

Keywords: caregiving, long-term care, community and home care, formal care, informal care

1. Introduction

According to the United Nations (2008), Malaysia is expected to become an ageing nation by 2030 in which 15% of its population were aged 60 years and above. Beard (2010) indicated that the ageing populations would increase the demand of long-term care rather than acute care. However, compared to other developed nations, Malaysia does not have necessary safety net such as long-term care insurance, private pension schemes, annuity income, and social security benefits for its retirees and aged senior citizens (Yip, 2012). Are Malaysians preparing to face the challenges of the ageing society? Bernama (2011) indicated that Malaysia's preparation for ageing population would require reformation in all social policies ranging from healthcare to public facilities for the elderly. Moreover, Chong (2011) also indicated that there was a gap between public and private roles in contributing to the ageing and long-term care system. It is worth noting that the modernisation process brings the societal changes which would directly or indirectly influence caregiving as well as the status of older people occupy in society.

In the absence of long-term care insurance and social security benefits, Malaysians mostly rely on informal care and some formal care for health care needs of the elderly. In Japan, Hanaoka and Norton (2008) showed that families living in 3-generation households have decreased from 46% in 1985 to 20.5% in 2006. Moreover, with urbanisation, it has increased the migration of young workforce to cities, leaving ageing parents behind to live by themselves. They suggest providing an age-friendly environment to encourage the active elderly to participate and continue contributing to society as well as enhancing their quality of life.

Hence, this paper is motivated to examine long-term care practices from the perspectives of formal care providers and informal caregivers for the elderly at home in Malaysia. The questions raised in this study is what extent is the long-term care for the elderly in Malaysia deliver and cope with the demand for the ageing population in near future? We surveyed two groups of target respondents, namely, the informal caregivers of the elderly at home and formal care providers in central regions of west Malaysia. The survey of informal caregivers explored the care received by the elderly at home whereas the survey of formal care providers studied the services, infrastructure, and facilities provided by them for elderly. The study not only add new empirical evidence to the existing literature by providing better understandings and knowledge about long-term care for the elderly, but also fill the gaps of limited research in Malaysia on formal and informal caregiving. Better understandings are needed for social policy reformation.

2. Literature Review

In Malaysia, the definition of elderly is an individual aged 60 and above based on the recognition attained from "World Assembly on Ageing 1982" in Vienna (Department of Social Welfare, 2012).

Choo et al. (2003) examined the social support and burden of 70 caregivers of patients with dementia in Malaysia. They used Zarit Burden interview measures which included the patient and caregivers demographics. …

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