Press Release

KIHASA Publishes October Issue of Health and Welfare Policy Forum, No. 300

  • Date 2021-10-15
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KIHASA has published this year’s October issue of Health and Welfare Policy Forum, No. 300 with a focus on “the life of older adults and its policy implications.”

Foreword: "Aged Society: the Emergence of the new old and policy directions for raising their quality of life," by Eun Sung-ho, Head, Bureau of Senior Policy, Ministry of Health and Welfare

Article I: "Economic Activity and Economic Status of Older Persons," by Hwang Namhui, Research Fellow, KIHASA

This study examined the changes in economic activity and economic level of older persons over the past 10 years using the National Survey of Older Koreans. From 2011 to 2020, the participation rate in economic activity increased and the economic status improved. In addition, it was found that the current job quality of older persons - occupational status, job satisfaction, wage level, etc. - changed positively, and the economic status of older persons within the household increased. Nevertheless, given that the poverty rate of older persons in Korea is still high, continuous policy considerations are needed to improve the economic status of older persons. It is necessary to increase policy interest in the future in that supporting older persons in their economic activities can not only improve the income level but also satisfy their desire to participate in society.

Article II: "Leisure and Informatiztion of the Older in Korea" by Kim Se-jin, Associate Research Fellow, KIHASA

This article analyzed the current status of leisure and informatization of the elderly in Korea, focusing on the results of the 2020 Survey on Seniors. In 2020, 80.3 percent of the elderly in Korea participated in leisure and cultural activities, and 79.1 percent participated in more than one social activity. While most of the elderly participated in passive leisure activities, it was revealed the levels and forms of leisure activities varied widely. Moreover, the utilization rate of leisure and cultural facilities for the elderly and the expected rate for the future varied among elderly groups, especially was different upon age groups. In particular, it was demonstrated that the 65-69 age group was more heterogeneous than other age groups. Also, the 65-69 age group showed a higher level of information technology literacy than the 70 or older age group. Accordingly, as the age spectrum of the elderly expands and the cohort born in the 1950s enters old age, diversity within the elderly population is expected to increase further. Therefore, it is necessary to establish leisure and information policies for older adults.

Article III: "Actual Conditions and Issues of Health and Functional Status of Older Koreans" by Lim Jeongmi, Associate Professor, Gyeongsang National University

In this paper, based on the National Survey of Older Koreans conducted by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, the health and functional status of the elderly will be assessed and the direction of health-related policies needed in the future will be discussed. For this purpose, we examined the health status, health behaviors, and functional status of the elderly. Overall, the number of older adults with serious chronic diseases decreased compared to 2017, but the percentage of older adults with one chronic disease increased compared to 2017. Symptoms of depression decreased compared to 2017, but the proportion of depressive symptoms was still higher among older adults, older adults without a spouse, older adults not in work, and older adults with functional limitations. Health behaviors, i.e., health practice behaviors including nutrition management, showed positive changes. Through the results of the analysis, it can be confirmed that preventive health care policies that take into account the characteristics of each high-risk group need to be strengthened in order to improve the health and functional status of the elderly.

Article IV: "Families and Social Relationships of the Older Koreans" by Lee Sun Hee, Senior Researcher, KIHASA

The purpose of this article is to understand the current status of family and social relationships of older Koreans and to present ways to respond to current trends in change. To this end, this study analyzed data from the 2020 National Survey of Older Koreans conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea Institute of Health and Social Affairs, focusing on changes in the structure, function, and perceived values of family and social relationships. This analysis confirmed that there have been general increases in households made up of seniors only, a reduction of family relationships with children, a diversification of the peer relationship network, and increases in the perceived value of independent life in old age. Based on its findings, this article recommends to strengthen policy attention to seniors living alone or in couples, strengthen the public care system, support the promotion of peer relationships among seniors, and help individuals and society prepare for old age.

Article V: "The Living Environment and Life Satisfaction of Older Koreans in 2020" by Lee Yunkyung, Research Fellow, KIHASA

Aging in place (AIP) is the goal of the elderly policy. It is what many elderly people want in their old age. Findings from the National Survey of Older Koreans 2020 suggest that about 70% of the elderly hope to live in their own homes or places that are not a nursing facility,even if their health deteriorates. However, housing and local environments threaten the safety and convenience of the elderly. 65.7% of the elderly feel discomfort due to using public transportation or using stairs or ramps when going out, and half of the elderly who fell are due to inappropriate environments such as slippery floors, roads or thresholds. In addition, it was found that the elderly experience discrimination against the elderly in various spaces and situations. Nevertheless, the life satisfaction of the elderly showed a positive change overall, and in particular, the satisfaction with health and economic status showed an upward result compared to the previous survey. Therefore, future policy for the elderly requires continuous efforts to improve the life satisfaction of the elderly as well as to create an age-friendly environment in the local community for the realization of AIP.

Article VI: "Social and Economic Experiences and Health Changes for Older Persons during the Covid-19 Pandemic" by Namkung Eun Ha, Associate Research Fellow, KIHASA

Using data from the 2020 National Survey of COVID-19 and Older Persons, this paper describes the social, economic, and health-related changes of older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic and presents policy implications. Most survey respondents reported decreases in frequency or amount of time for various out-of-home activities such as visiting senior centers, participating in social clubs, and meeting family members or relatives not living in the same household. More than half of the respondents also reported that they have experienced worries about COVID-19 infection, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, and depressive symptoms since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The extent of these experiences varied by socioeconomic characteristic, as those living alone and aged 80+ were most vulnerable. Thus, policies to protect older persons’ mental health and provide alternative social activities are needed especially for such vulnerable groups. Finally, continued financial support may help recover income and/or job loss due to the pandemic for many older persons who run small businesses and are lower in perceived economic status.

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