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Board game to offer life lessons to HK’s elderly

Initiative is part of Catholic Church's elderly care services in the city amid low birth rate and rising ageing population
An elderly woman pushes her trolleys up a hill in Hong Kong on Oct. 5, 2022.

An elderly woman pushes her trolleys up a hill in Hong Kong on Oct. 5, 2022. (Photo: Peter Parks/AFP)

Published: April 01, 2024 12:03 PM GMT
Updated: April 02, 2024 07:28 AM GMT

A Catholic charity in Hong Kong has launched a new board game to help elderly people view life and death positively and learn about end-of-life preparation.

The "Wisdom of Life" was launched by the elderly services of Caritas Hong Kong, the social service agency of the Hong Kong Diocese, at the Caritas-run Cheng Shing Fung Elderly Community Center under its hospice care program.

The game can help players see life from the perspective of death, cherish the present more, and plan for the rest of their lives, said Taiwanese Sister Agnes Lin Ai-wen of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a co-designer of the game.

The initiative comes in response to healthcare challenges and an aging population in the city.

The former British colony has been grappling with an impending demographic crisis fueled by a falling birth rate and rising elderly population.

The elderly population aged 65 and older is projected to rise from 20.5 percent in 2021 to 36 percent in 2046, the Census and Statistics Department said in a report last August.

With the current trend of low birth rate, the city will have the world’s highest percentage of elderly population by 2050 with an estimated 40.6 percent, according to projections by the United Nations.

Caritas’ hospice program for elderly people with a "people-oriented, good life and happy death" approach includes implementing life education activities based on four themes of life -- thanks, sorry, love, and farewell.

Over a decade, the nun has been working among the elderly using the four themes through life education activities from a spiritual perspective. At the same time, she also compiled educational materials for Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The hospice program, which promotes the life concept approach to reduce regrets, also includes activities to help the elderly make funeral arrangements and achieve their unfulfilled wishes in the hope they can enjoy their old age in peace.

The board game, the second under a similar series designed to facilitate life education learning, also aims to enhance players’ interpersonal communication, relationships with others, and self-efficacy and decrease loneliness. 

Yip Suk-fan, director of the hospice care program, said that they hope the game will help the elderly see and integrate life in a positive and relaxing way, inspire the meaning of life, and a better plan for their life.

More than 17,000 elderly people in the city receive community support and residential services under Caritas’ elderly care services. The agency offers 430,000 hot meals to needy people and provides support to 2,700 carers annually.

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