Aging institute to be established for elderly citizens

A lawmaker has filed a bill creating the Philippine Institute for
Aging (PIA) that will serve as a government agency to handle
scientific research on aging and other related concerns of the
Filipino elderly.

Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora), author of House Bill
5411, said the objective of the measure is to motivate and encourage
the senior citizens to contribute to nation building and encourage
their families and communities  to reaffirm the valued Filipino
tradition of caring for senior citizens.

Angara, Chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical
Education, said the bill to be known as the “Philippine Institute for
Aging Act of 2011” seeks to establish PIA as the government’s
research-oriented think-tank that will study aging and the aged as an
integrated, multi-disciplinary field responsive to the present and
prospective needs of the country’s population.

“The aging population has a huge impact on the society. Family
structures are changing, leaving older people fewer options for care
and the government faces a growing financial burden from pension
costs, medical care, and other long-term care, implying a sharp
increase in taxes or the reduction of benefits enjoyed,” Angara said.

Angara said the aging population has become a common trend in many
countries, including the Philippines, with the average age of 26.6
years, Korea with 33 years and Japan with 44.8 years.

Angara said the population of senior citizens in the Philippines has
steadily been increasing from 5.3 percent in 1980 to 6.9 percent in
2011.

“If current trends continue, the average age of a Filipino will rise
to 33.3 years by 2040, our elderly would have more than doubled to
19.6 million or 13.8% of the population,” Angara said.

“The advancement in healthcare, medicine and nutrition are enabling
people to live longer.  Ground breaking research in neuroscience, gene
therapy and stem cell technology are prolonging life spans even more.
An emerging field of research called smart aging will help make longer
years productive,” Angara said.

“The challenges may seem daunting, but a host of opportunities await
us as well. There are exciting opportunities for economic expansion
and cross-national collaboration as well, but we must act now or the
costs of waiting, financial and social, will be overwhelming,” Angara
said.

Angara said the Filipino elderly will soon be a major market and the
consumer and recreational products would have to be tailor-fitted to
their needs.

“Adults tend to remain active through their advanced years and that
will have enormous implications on infrastructure, particularly health
facilities and the transportation system,” Angara said.

Angara said the PIA shall  enhance its professional and technical
competence through continuing education and rigorous training programs
through modern laboratory facilities and state of the art
technologies, as well as collaborative and exchange works and projects
with similar institutions abroad.

The PIA shall have a Board of Directors, which shall be headed by the
Secretary of the Department of Health as Chairperson. The board shall
organize a corps of scientists and researchers and a secretariat of
the PIA to be headed by the executive director.

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