Spatial Analysis of Elderly Mortality, Morbidities, and Mental Health Status in Hong Kong
Background and Objective
The ever ageing population is becoming a major issue in Hong Kong which sparks great discussion within the community. According to the 2015 Population Policy, elderly population constituted up to 14.7% of the Hong Kong population in 2014. This number is expected to double in the next two decades. The expanding aging population not only increases government spending in elderly healthcare services, it also poses a burden to the overall people’s quality of life and the development of our society.
Elderly health is influenced by multiple factors in both individual and geographical aspects. Recent studies indicated geographical variations, for instance, the community’s socioeconomic levels and people’s geneal life style, pay a critical role in the contribution of an individual’s health outcomes. These variables provide rich information on the unique community characteristics and potential factors contributing to the quality of health in elderlies in the community. We aim to highlight the relationship between geographical factors and Hong Kong elderlies’ mortality, morbitities on major diseases, and mental health status in our current study.
We are glad to have received a valuable dataset from Department of Health in early 2016. Our research team at CSRP has then mapped the available data on morbilities of major diseases and mental health status (determined by Mini Mental State Examination [MMSE] score) of Hong Kong elderlies population according to the geographical locations in Hong Kong.
What we found was very interesting. Our study discovered that elderly mortality rate is higher in several areas in New Territories with relatively high incidence ratio in some small areas around Kwun Tong, Sha Tin, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, and Southern districts. Comparing between the two sexes, female tend to live longer than male within the same age group. However, higher number of females were diagnosed with severe cognitive impairment (MMSE score below 20) than males. This difference became more apparent when age increases as female tend to outnumber male by fivefold in terms of having daignosised with severe cognitive impairment.
Sufficient planning is vital for city development. While the underpinning aging demographics are unchangeable, it is important for us to be prepared for the rapid aging population. We call for a raise of awareness in policymakers, NGOs, and members of the healthcare sector on the issue of elderly health. We are hoping our findings can provide a reference to allocate resources effectively to areas of Hong Kong where it is most needed to tackle the apparent issue from the community level. The aging population is a great challenge to Hong Kong in the upcoming years. Nonetheless, with sound research evidences and appropriate preparation from various stakeholders, health quality and living standard of all citizens can be maintained and even further improved.
The full report of the project in English is available HERE.