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‘We want a peaceful life here and hereafter’: healthy ageing perspectives of older Malays in Malaysia


Healthy ageing concepts have been extensively studied in Western societies but few studies have explored the perceptions of older people from other cultural backgrounds. The aim of the study was to explore the conceptualisations of healthy ageing and perceived influences on ageing well amongst relatively healthy older Malays, a major ethnic group in Malaysia. Eight focus groups were conducted, with 38 participants recruited via community groups and leaders. Six themes were identified: spirituality, physical health and function, peace of mind, financial independence, family, and living environment. In this paper, we focus on the role of spirituality in healthy ageing which was a core resource in participants' lives. Participants reported that good physical health was an important resource that facilitated commitment to their spiritual activities. Furthermore, deteriorating functional ability appeared to provide an opportunity to optimise their spirituality, rather than hinder it. Participants wished for a ‘peaceful life’ and experienced this by enhancing their spirituality. Other ingredients for a peaceful life were financial independence, living in a place they love and having family members who live in harmony. In this community where religious affiliation is a tradition, spirituality can be fundamental for healthy ageing and its inclusion in aged care policy is imperative. However, further exploration on the diversity of individual expression of spirituality is important.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Noorlaili Tohit, Department of Family Medicine, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, Jalan Yaakob Latiff, Bandar Tun Razak, 56000, Cheras, Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
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