Hong Kong is at the threshold of a large demographic shift as the generation of baby-boomers start to retire. The number of older adults and the elderly will surge to 25% of the city’s total population in less than two decades’ time. Our ageing society will therefore see more of the challenges associated with the old, such as ill health, disabilities, and greater dependency. But we must not forget that it also brings about new opportunities, including the potential for more knowledge and wisdom transfer as well as more potential consumers from an often neglected but expanding pool of older human capital.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), being an application-oriented tertiary education institution, has a long tradition of emphasizing the application of innovative research and practices for the betterment of society. It is therefore timely that the University is taking a proactive stance to promote the notion of active ageing and to embrace the opportunities and challenges posed by an ageing society through interdisciplinary research, education and practice. PolyU’s Institute of Active Ageing (IAA), which has been operating since September 2009 and is hosted by the University’s Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, is a new initiative in an era of new challenges for Hong Kong society.
We are committed to research excellence and innovation in the key areas of ageing, interdisciplinary education related to gerontology, and evidence-based practices for the promotion of active ageing.
We adopt a unique and comprehensive model in the promotion of active ageing by encompassing knowledge from all fundamental dimensions of everyday life of an older adult. We tackle issues not only from a health and social care perspective, but also from policy and administration, business and finance, design, biotechnology, engineering and technology, the built environment, leisure and recreation, and textiles and clothing angles. Our core members come from 23 disciplines across different faculties and schools of PolyU.
For our three interlocking, interdisciplinary strategic areas of research, education, and practice, our aims are:
To create a platform to encourage and pool together scholars and researchers of different professional disciplines to carry out interdisciplinary ageing research of common interest, such as in the areas of 'total wellness', 'age-friendly environments', and 'gerontechnology';
To create an interdisciplinary undergraduate programme on applied gerontology, which will prepare all-rounded professionals with the necessary competencies and attributes to meet the emerging needs of our ageing society and to be able to work with the diverse population of older adults;
To offer credit-bearing courses and non-credit-bearing courses through our Mini-U for the Third Age Programme to encourage lifelong learning among older individuals. Our Association for the Third Age, which we run together with older adults, will further empower older members of society to attain healthy, independent, active ageing through facilitating their participation in lifelong education, volunteer work, and gainful employment.
For the coming year, we will be concentrating on developing IAA further by organizing more events and courses for professionals and the public, and forming more partnerships with different stakeholders, including different industries, NGOs, professional bodies, and academic and research institutions overseas. We will also be vamping up our efforts to empower older adults to continue engaging with the rest of society and in their own health and well-being.
I hope that you will also support us in whatever way you can to help turn Hong Kong into an age-friendly city that meets the needs of its ageing society.
Institute of Active Ageing