Middle-aged and elderly people can and should drive local creativity

Original link: https://taiwan.chtsai.org/2023/09/15/difang_chuangsheng/

In recent years, the government has vigorously promoted local revitalization and often linked it with the return of young people to their hometowns. For example, “youth drives local creativity.” It is worthy of recognition for young people to return to their hometown and make some new attempts. But in fact, the middle-aged and elderly people aged between 45 and 65 should be able to drive local creativity.

Difang Chuangsheng

Empowering an aging society

At present, the population is roughly evenly divided between young people aged 20 to 44 and middle-aged and elderly people aged 45 to 64. As time goes by, more and more middle-aged and elderly people will enter the elderly. In the last century, reaching old age was mostly about retirement. However, in this era, the elderly population lives longer and needs to stay healthy and productive for a longer period of time, so as not to bring down the entire society.

All of this starts with training when they are not too old, that is, at the middle-to-senior stage, and the current group of people are obviously not ready. It is too late to ask for changes until you are really old. Getting this group of people to reboot for themselves and for society will be a top priority.

Lifestyle flip

The leisure lives of people in previous eras were rarely health-promoting. If you are old enough to have experienced the economic boom of the 1980s, you will feel it. In the past, people only started to pay attention to their health when they got older. But in the age of aging, those rich but unhealthy lives are no longer suitable.

People in this era need to start promoting health earlier and more actively. The middle and senior years are the most critical stage. The middle-aged and elderly people in this era live healthier lives than the middle-aged and elderly people in the previous era, and their lifestyle should not and will never be the same as the middle-aged and elderly people in the previous era.

From passively receiving care to actively promoting health

The middle-aged and elderly people are the missing link in health care. This group of people who are already not particularly healthy can become healthier if they take a step forward; if they take a step back, they may become disabled. But the current situation is that there are no good policies and service designs to push them forward. The role of the medical system is still in disease screening, risk identification and control.

If the middle-aged and elderly people do not actively promote health, there will be more and more unhealthy elderly people in the future, which will overwhelm the health care system. How to restart the middle-aged and elderly people and promote a healthier lifestyle is the core of local creation. The elderly population in this era needs to be healthier and more productive than ever before, and these must start with the health of middle-aged and elderly people.

Create your own place

Only when the middle-aged and elderly people age actively can a place be reborn. Local creation still needs to be done by local people themselves. If the elderly people in the local area do not have ambitions for a more livable and sustainable environment and life, it will be useless no matter how much interference the outside team makes.

From the central government to the local governments, “design reversal, local creation” has been called, and may have been done for several years, but experts have been talking nonsense, and various plans have come and gone. It is difficult for a bunch of curatorial and event-based local creations to have a substantial impact, and it is also difficult to be sustainable.

Therefore, the solution that local governments think of to flip the industrial structure is to invite TSMC to set up factories. Six years ago, I participated in a university social responsibility practice visit and exchange. After hearing the results of the school and community reports, the head of the local government directly said that he would actively strive for the science park. The teachers and students present were not embarrassed, but I felt embarrassed.

If local people can eat well, exercise well, and sleep well, and the quality of life is so good that outsiders want to experience it or even move there, health, industry, tourism, and population structure will all be solved. Focusing on using local context to design an environment that can enrich leisure and promote health should be the goal of place creation.

Six years ago, I came to Miaoli for a health promotion research topic and visited health clinics in several towns and villages. After taking stock of local resources, I felt that the terrain was an advantage. There are slopes wherever you walk or ride a bicycle. Similarly, if an elderly person takes a half-hour walk, cardiopulmonary training on a slope will be more effective. Local people may think it’s nothing, but this is really an environment that other cities don’t have.

Save your own life by yourself

On the young side, there is government promotion and assistance. On the other side of the elderly spectrum, there is also the government’s long-term care system. The older people in the sandwich generation have become the missing link.

This group of people must wake up and take the initiative to change. In particular, some problems are not so strong when you are younger. It is too late to do something when you are old. The best time is in the middle and senior stages. Promoting urban and social changes from the inside out will not only allow you to have a better senior life in the future, but also allow young people to have better examples and imagination for entering middle-aged and senior years.

Further reading

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