Longevity No Blessing for 43% of Koreans

      August 16, 2011 07:23

      Four out of 10 Koreans feel it would be no blessing to live much past the age of 90, according to a survey. The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs conducted the poll in June on 1,000 Koreans and found that 43.3 percent of the respondents felt living beyond 90 or even 100 is nothing to aspire to. Only 28.7 percent said longevity is a blessing, while 28 percent were neither for nor against.

      Asked why a very long life is no blessing, 38.3 percent said it leads to an interminable old age, while 30.6 percent cited the problems many elderly people face such as poverty, disease, alienation and loneliness, and 24.1 percent said they do not want to become a burden for their children.

      Some 59.3 percent said they would like to live to between 80 and 89, 20.9 percent said 70 to 79. Only 8.2 percent of the respondents want to live past 100, and 7.8 percent into their 90s.

      Asked about the best retirement age, 32 percent said longer life spans mean that people should work as long as they are physically capable, while 35.1 percent said 65 to 69. Twenty five percent said 60 to 64, and 11.5 percent said 70 or older.

      In a sign that traditional values are fast disappearing, the most important family member in old age for 84.3 percent is their spouse, while only 12.6 percent selected their children. A mere 1.3 percent named their siblings.

      Asked how they wish to live when they need constant medical care, 44.5 percent said they would check themselves into nursing homes, while 38.4 percent said they want to live with their spouses or by themselves.

      Park Sang-chul, a professor at Seoul National University's School of Medicine, said, "The reason people consider it no blessing to live past 100 is because they have a lot of anxieties about the future and a negative image of the elderly." He called for better work opportunities for senior citizens to improve these negative perceptions.

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