Power up the international academic exchanges on aging study, the National Chung Cheng University promotes database application of senior society research findings in full strength

Published on Apr 25 2019

In order to promote lifelong learning in Taiwan and to be in line with international research trends, the Center for Innovative Research on Aging Society (CIRAS) of the National Chung Cheng University (CCU), from the 24th of April 2019, held a "Forward-looking Aging Research and Talent Cultivation Workshop" and the "2019 Senior Lifelong Learning and Gerontechnology International Conference", for three days consecutively. In these academic activities, CIRAS invited a number of local scholars and professionals from Taiwan and other international experts from Finland, the United Kingdom, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, etc. to jointly discuss certain issues over aging society, and hope to work out solutions for the challenges raised by the upcoming super-aged phase in Taiwan.

The "Forward-looking Aging Research and Talent Cultivation Workshop" was the first activity that came on stage, focusing on topics such as cross-domain integration of aging study and database application of elderly community research findings. In the meeting, Professor Taina Rantanen from Jyväskylä University in Finland gave a special speech, and Dr. Tsung-Ren (Tren) Huang and Dr. Yuan-Chih Fu talked about their research experience on database construction. There were also many teachers from various fields sharing thoughts about how senior research could be connected with education to develop cross-domain curriculum models; and how those models could be used to cultivate professional talents and improve students’ future employability.

Since Taiwan is about to step into a super-aged society in 2025, there is no doubt the country as a whole will face a lot of aging related challenges. The questions on how to deal with or conquer those challenges fundamentally, must turn to "education" for answers. For many years, CCU has been in great efforts promoting the comprehensive development on humanities and social science, science and technology. CCU not only keeps on building connections with local characteristics actively, but also encouraging students to pay attention to the surrounding communities and then to use what they have learnt to help solve societal problems. "Caring for the aging issues is not a slogan of social policy, it is really important and closely related to our future", said CCU Vice President, Dr. Feng-Ming Hao. Through this aging workshop, CCU hopes to spark off discussions in depth between the experts on aging research and the professionals who practically work with the aged community, to come up with some effective solutions for the future challenges.

At the moment in Taiwan, the concerns about aging issues mainly focus on the medical aspects. However, according to statistics, the number of elderly people who need the living assistance will reach 600,000 in 2025, accounting for only 13% of total aged population at that time. Meanwhile, about 4 million other seniors will be still relatively healthy and do not require long-term care services. Owing to that predicted finding, Ding-Yu Jiang, CCU Professor of the Department of Psychology, from the perspective of forward-looking aging research, claimed that except those people who needs the living support, we should also target these relatively healthy elderly people, providing them with the innovative products and services to match their needs, for them to create a higher personal value by continuously contribute themselves to the society.

Dr. Hao also suggested that the planning of university curriculum ought to keep up with the trends of the future markets that cater for the aged community, and help students understand the physical and psychological development, the social and interpersonal needs of the elderly. The curriculum should enable students to do marketing, programming, product design, users’ experience analysis and entrepreneurial planning, as well facilitate the younger generation to collaboratively provide the services to the aged community.

Following the two major directions of seniority and education, on the 25th and 26th, CIRAS co-sponsored the "2019 Senior Lifelong Learning and Gerontechnology International Conference" in Taichung with the National Museum of Natural Science, aiming to stimulate discussions over various seniority-related topics. These topics included the senior lifelong learning innovation program, museum and senior learning, senior gerontechnology, senior social participation and human resource development, senior information rights, senior environment-friendly and universal design, and senior industry development. Dr. Hao believed that with the link successfully built onto a national and international levels through this conference, it would definitely generate more thoughts from the public concerning our aged society.

Besides, outside the conference venue, there was a special combined exhibition “My Dear, I Am Old Now! – the 2019 Taichung Trilogy”. Here, people were led by senior volunteer guides who are over 65 years old when touring around the exhibition. The exhibition used the talking points such as "Old Friends", "Old Looks", "Old Wisdoms" and "Old Wills" to help participants imagine the life of being “Old”. And more, it continued to direct people to explore some aging issues that people would have to face when they are getting old, for example, the interpersonal relationship, the living aspects of dieting, clothing, housing, mobility and leisure activities, and the employment system for the elderly community. It also introduced other emerging issues such as the fashionable life, time-banking management, use of assistive devices, long-term care 2.0, etc., overall, for the public to fully understand the current situations and challenges in old people’s life, and to witness hundreds of possibilities of "living old".