#Hashtag Hong Kong



    Listen to #Hashtag Hong Kong every Sunday morning at 8.15

    Focussing on issues affecting civil society, we'll hear from representatives of NGOs, associations, statutory bodies, and non-profit groups.

    (Sundays 8.15am - 8.25am)



    Katie Wong, Chief Officer (Elderly Service) The Hong Kong Council of Social Service


    As the population ages, more people find caring for their elderly loved ones falling on their shoulders.  While the population of Hong Kong increased only by 5% between 2011 and 2021, the population of centenarians, people aged 100 or more, increased by more than 6 folds.


    In light of the rapid increase in the population of adults of advanced age, say nonagenarians and centenarians, in collaboration with The University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Shue Yan University, The Hong Kong Council of Social Service recently conducted the second round of the Hong Kong Centenarian Study (with the first round taking place in 2011) with 151 families and found that most caregivers of centenarians are their children, with many of them being between 65-74 years old (43%). 


    This phenomenon of “the elderly caring for even older seniors” is common in Hong Kong.  It poses significant challenges, including physical fatigue, emotional stress, social isolation, and financial burden, adversely impacting caregivers’ health and well-being.


    The biggest challenge faced by elderly caregivers is physical and mental fatigue.  Caring for a loved one requires a lot of strength and energy, which can be even more taxing for elderly caregivers with health issues.  They may have to frequently lift or support a frail loved one, provide assistance in daily living, and perform other tasks that can strain their bodies continually.


    Emotional stress is another challenge, particularly when caring involves complex or arduous needs.  For example, tending to a loved one with dementia or other cognitive impairments requires infinite patience and constant attention, which can be frustrating and overwhelming. Many caregivers wish to see their older loved ones through and are motivated to provide as much care to their older relatives as possible. Despite such high motivation to care, their strains may elevate to a point where their mental and physical health is compromised, which is when nursing home placements are considered.


    Caregivers may also feel isolated and burnt out, as they often have to sacrifice socialising with friends and family or their interests.  This can spiral into depression and anxiety, further exacerbating their struggles.


    The financial burden is another challenge that elderly caregivers may grapple with, especially those who are retired and living on a fixed income.  In other words, their financial resources, whether from their own children or governmental subsidies, are often shared with their older loved ones. The study mentioned above showed that 83.2% of caregivers had a monthly income below $30,000, and 70.5% of respondents earned below the poverty line of $20,000 for a 4-person household (CSD, 2020).  48.3% of caregivers expressed financial pressure.


    So, what can be done to aid elderly caregivers facing these problems? Here are a few suggestions:


    1)            Seeking out community resources, including respite care, support groups, and counselling services.  Elderly caregivers should also reach out to family and friends for help, as small gestures can make a big difference.


    2)            It is also essential for caregivers to prioritise their health and well-being by taking time for themselves, pursuing hobbies and interests, or getting mental health support when needed.  Caregivers who look after themselves are better equipped to watch over their loved ones in the long run.


    3)            Sometimes, it may be necessary to hire a professional caregiver to assist with the needs of a loved one.  With the advance in technology, some products help, such as fall prevention equipment and health-monitoring smart devices. Caregiver subsidies or financial subsidies for using Gerontechnology in the community would help.


    Taking care of an elderly loved one can be arduous and emotionally draining, particularly for caregivers themselves, seniors.  By seeking out available resources, asking for help from family and friends, being mindful of self-care, and appraising professional assistance, elderly caregivers can get the support they need to navigate the challenges and provide the best care possible for their loved ones.


    And now I have a song I'd like to dedicate to all of you listening. My song is: You’ve Got a Friend by Carole King


    04/06/2023 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)


    04 - 06


    Katie Wong, Chief Officer (Elderly Service) The Hong Kong Council of Social Service


    Joyce Fung, co-founder of Free Periods Hong Kong


    Wong Suet-mei, Conservation Officer, The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society


    Lena Wong, Founder & Executive Director of HK Momtrepreneurs


     Dr Elisabeth Wong, Specialist in Psychiatry and Honorary Secretary of Mental Health Foundation


    Kiann Wong, Assistant Chief Executive of S.K.H. St. Christopher’s Home


    James Chong, Founder & CEO, Rolling Books


     Dr. Jian Yang, Programme Coordinator of the HKU Body Donation Programme


    (L to R ) Larra Chung, Vice- Chairperson (internal) and Connie Wong, Vice-chairperson (external) of Hong Kong Parkinson’s Disease


    Si Si Liu, Director Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres

    Cindy Ng, Senior Manager of Programmes & Services, KELY Support Group

    When KELY first started in 1991, it didn’t have a strategic plan. Our theory then was simple - to save lives. The initial group of young people who had started KELY saw how their peers were struggling with life’s pressures, with no real avenues of support, and as a result, turned to negative coping mechanisms including drug abuse, self harm and sometimes even death. As a support group, KELY quickly spread from one young person to another, and the organisation soon became publicly known, receiving invitations to share personal experience stories in school settings for educational purposes.  
    30 years later, we are proud of our history and the young people who started this movement of peer support and the subsequent achievements we have seen as a youth organisation. Today, our services have expanded beyond drug prevention education to include services tackling mental health issues among youth as well as providing positive youth development opportunities as a way to empower the youth and strengthen their resilience.
    Every year we support anywhere between 10-30,000 Hong Kong youth and with each decade we see young people within this same age group of 14-24 year olds facing different challenges. Throughout history we’ve seen evolution and progress in technology, in education, and on a societal level. With each generation we see new emerging trends and communication styles. The “how” today has changed to one that is no longer face to face, but hides behind screens. Our expressions are no longer lengthy descriptions of emotions and feelings in words, but replaced by five second video reels or one single character - an emoji. The efficiency of this way of emotion expression is high, but is it as effective as we need to be when communicating complex thoughts?
    This generation of youth is born into online chat rooms and technology that brings the world’s information and burdens at one click of a button. Whether or not young people are able to make sense of and process this burden is yet to be known. We see that the power of accessing information is empowering and builds a stronger and more connected generation, but it also further adds to the complicated emotions that these young people are likely to experience. 
    As we consider how to make our services relevant for the youth in this post COVID world, we recognise that our emotions and our overall mental health is at a tipping point. One thing that staunchly remains as a barrier during this time is the stigma around mental health issues. Yes, we might be slowly placing this as a higher agenda both in corporate and government agendas to help resource, lead conversations. But when it comes down to one individual in pain, struggling - the ability to openly share with family and friends, to confront the long waiting lines and wade through the options of where to seek for help and the subsequent worry about whether or not this would affect one's ability to keep working, or stay in school or just be “normal” becomes all too real and suddenly, getting help, telling people about their struggle is no longer a viable option. 
    In a survey KELY Support Group released earlier this year, we asked 1352 young people about their struggles and journeys seeking help 1.5 year after COVID-19 - the result is devastating. 51% rated themselves as being more than somewhat stressed when asked about their current emotional status; 60% did not seek help for their mental health conditions, and of those who do, 57% seek help only sometimes. 
    We see it all too often. When young people find themselves in such a difficult place and are unable to express themselves fully, that's when coping mechanisms become the crutch. That’s when things like alcohol or drugs enter as a perceived possibility to help “ease the pain” or “pass the time” so that living becomes easier. It is possible that young people might have tried other ways to cope, but what we also see is how often and how much media and pop culture and even societal norms advertise substances as a solution. As an example, the phrase “drink your problems away” appears in multiple facets of everyday life from song lyrics, to movie quotes, slogans and commonplace sayings between friends. The same goes for the use of drugs to “have a good time” - both of which become attractive possible solutions despite potentially harmful long term implications. 
    Substance abuse is a complicated issue and we need to continually be adjusting our approaches so as to ensure that prevention education work remains relevant and impactful despite the ever-changing environment.
    One thing we have seen throughout our work with youth across our programmes is a more open attitude towards vulnerable sharing and being more open to talk about genuine experiences in mental health and other challenges. We are always grateful to hear how our youth participants are able to make use of the techniques we teach them to effectively share their lived experiences, express their struggles to get help or support their peers.
    Through our school based work and joint campaigns implemented in conjunction with youth, we see that this generation are educated in how to care about their health and regardless of how they may be seen, they are actually making informed choices and are motivated, like others before them, to find their way to find success and achieve a life that is fulfilling and impactful. It just might not look like what you might expect. Our hope is that we can continually put ourselves into their shoes to effectively achieve our goal in Hong Kong…  to see young people reach their full potential.


    14/08/2022 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    14/08/2022 - Cindy Ng, Senior Manager of Programmes & Services, KELY Support Group

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