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Other Needs

There are other needs that are important for the well being of your mental health and these are:


The Oxford English dictionary describes ‘Stigma’ as a mark or token of infamy, disgrace, or reproach. The stigma may be against the old person (ageism) or it could be stigma against the mental illness itself. The stigma against mental illness and it prevents the elderly from seeking help. There is a need to educate yourself of the need to avoid this stigma towards mental illness and that it could be effectively treated.


It means entertaining negative thoughts and attitudes toward people simply because they are older. This prejudice occurs at all levels of society including among health care providers and is supported by the media. Thus their experience and wisdom may not be appreciated and as a result the older person looses out on benefits. For example you can hardly see an older person endorsing a product in advertisements. We can overcome this by advocacy and campaigning against ageism

Discrimination in Employment

‘Discrimination’ in employment means that an employer or an employment agency is not treating all qualified employees or applicants equally. Discrimination against employment can be based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or age. For example, refusing to take applications from anyone above the age of 40 or more. There is no age discrimination in the Malaysian labor law; in government civil service, the compulsory retirement age is 58. This need not be seen as discrimination because this is intended to provide opportunity to the young generation to enter the civil service. Also, elder people above 56 do have other employer opportunity.


The incidence of poverty among Malaysians decreased from 15 per cent in 1990 to 7.5 per cent in 1991. Poverty rates for the elderly vary widely depending on gender, race, ethnicity, marital status and age. The elderly are likely to be poor if they are:

  • female
  • single
  • belonging to certain ethnic group
  • living in rural area

Households headed by the elderly experienced high incidence of poverty at 22.7 per cent. Poverty can be overcome by:

  • Having poverty eradication programmes which are target-specific
  • Addressing pockets of poverty in remote areas as well as among disadvantaged groups
  • Having programmes addressing the issues of urban poverty
  • Having programmes that include provision of social amenities, including housing, health and education


The elderly spend 3 times more on healthcare compared to the young population group. Unfortunately there are many hiccups and problems facing the practices and policies pertaining to organization of the elderly services at all levels of care which include:

  • Primary care physician
  • Specialised services


There are advocacy groups and organised supports for the elderly. However, for those elderly with mental health problems the situation is much worse. Advocacy groups are important in :

  • Carrying out policy, support and research work on issues of ageing and development
  • In strengthening the networks between both government and non-government organisations
  • In seeking innovations and interventions in tackling the issues of ageing
  • In the promotion of rights and participation of older people
Last Reviewed : 16 September 2008
Writer : Dr. Suraya binti Yusoff
  : Dr. Susy Mathew
  : En. Harol Hanam bin Muhammed Wahid