It is time to forget everything you thought about being old. Having just celebrated a milestone 50th birthday, our Executive Director of Kinta Properties and Meru Valley Resort Dato’ Lim Si Boon has spoken frankly about reaching the ‘half-way age’ and his mission to design a collective village that enhances later life and cares for the environment. Dato’ Lim has been putting his energy into his late father’s vision of creating a new attitude to ageing and wellbeing in Malaysia.
Warning: if you don’t like talking about your age then expect to get uncomfortable!
“I have to admit, I’m really enjoying the ageing process. Every aspect of getting older is brilliant; no more awkward years, I’ve started to turn into someone else, things have become clearer and I don’t want to play safe, I want to do things differently.
If we’re lucky then old age applies to each and every single one of us. Denying it is denying our own fate. The process of getting old is often looked upon as undesirable; societal pressures tell us to dye grey hair and freeze wrinkles, we’re bombarded daily with anti-ageing messages that can make us feel bad. It turns out however that wrinkles can look good and we’re entitled to get old and have different ideas. Forget the stereotypes, people do not want to be defined or held back by their age, and interests don’t change just because another birthday has passed.
People are living longer. Government statistics show that as of last year, Malaysians aged 60 and above comprise 9.5 per cent of the population. This is projected to increase to 15 per cent by 2030 and nearly a quarter of the population (23.5 per cent) by 2050. Our rapidly ageing society is a demographic phenomenon that could be pitched as a national healthcare success story but what’s really interesting is that although people are living longer they aren’t ageing in the traditional way.
Mindsets and values are changing – there is a demographic of financially independent people who may walk across the road a little slower and ask you to talk a little louder but they still want to be independent and to maintain a good quality of life. The expectation for families to care for older members is changing, people are tired of the ‘do it all’ approach of balancing care commitments and work. It’s important to recognise that not everyone holds the conservative view that living away from your children is abandonment. Some people may not want to be housed in the family annex or feel life is too short to be enclosed from the world in a one dimensional old people’s home. Property developers have an opportunity to make a difference and activate communities.
I grew up in a multi-generational household, three generations living under one roof. My late father Dato’ KK Lim had a youthful outlook and a determined approach to life. He challenged the segregation of old and young communities, his vision was a place that was designed for all. A community united by attitude, where people feel safe, know their neighbours but still maintain some privacy.
This ethos has been right at the heart of our commitments, together with my uncle, Architect Dato’ Ar. KL Lim, we built Meru Valley EcoVillage for an inclusive, ageless community. From the very start, we have had a clear shared vision and strategy for the kind of place we’re trying to create. Somewhere that reflects traditional ideas about family and at the same time offer a more contemporary and independent lifestyle. We are whole heartedly proud to have developed an accessible social architecture around new technology and traditional specialist support to really improve the quality of life for all.
Meru EcoVillage for everyone
The beauty of Meru Valley EcoVillage is that everyone can use it, whether you’re 21 or 75 years old, a retiree or a new mum. It is a place for people to transform their health and sense of wellbeing.
Set in the heart of our thriving golf resort at Meru Valley Golf and Country Club, Ipoh, the village is inspired by both resort and concierge-style living. It sits on 9.5 acres of land and features a mix of single storey villas, townhouses and serviced suites, all located within a gated and guarded community.
Meru Valley EcoVillage takes the quintessential elements of village life, a fabric made up of different areas, each with their own purpose and style and yet seamlessly linked to form a supportive community. Here we’ve created a positive place, which is about elevating the everyday moments of happiness, alleviating loneliness and creating safe, fun and engaging spaces.
There are impressive grounds but fundamentally it offers community spaces that make you want to stay, meet people and simply just be. There is the library and games room, the breakout sofa area, shared laundry room and the convenience of the Meru Valley Resort club house. There’s access to a wide range of wellbeing and health facilities, including a convenient grocery store, restaurant, cafe, event space, swimming pool, specialised gym, spa rooms and a hairdresser – not to mention the small matter of a 27-hole golf course.
We have had a steady stream of re-adventurers and empty-nesters, including expats who stay at Meru Valley EcoVillage and return home for a couple of months to see children and grandchildren before coming back out. A real community is starting to emerge, people enjoy a morning coffee in the cafe, play a nine hole round of golf, or take in a yoga class, before having dinner with neighbours in the clubhouse or a nightcap at The Terrace. Our residents are independent, have genuine friendships with neighbours, the staff are familiar to them and ultimately they are reassured that they have access to onsite medical services.
Innovative care and wellbeing is being delivered to all residents and long-stay guests. Our mantra is preventative medicine and ageing well. On site is an integrated medical clinic with consultation rooms, comfortable waiting areas, recovery room, home nursing services and a physiotherapy centre.
We have an excellent partnership with KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital and have found informal networks are much more effective than formal organisational structures because everyone has different needs. The multi-skilled Meru Valley EcoVillage team, including a doctor and home nursing team work together with GPs, nurses, hospitals, physiotherapist and family members. Our mantra is preventative medicine and feeling safe – knowing you can get help whenever you need it.
The Meru Valley EcoVillage suites have been designed so that health is monitored seamlessly. People live independently through unobtrusive technology integrated into the suites that monitor health, store health information in one place and give convenient support in one click.
Our smart technology is optional and tailored to individual requirements to help people thrive and connect. If the resident chooses to have sensors fitted in the suite and there’s been an accident the e-sensor in the room notices that they’ve fallen over. The device picks up there’s no movement and an alert gets sent to staff on site, who immediately go to investigate. This is just one example of how our technology complement human care, not replaces it.
Authorised family members can be kept up to date with health reports and appointments electronically or if they prefer a personal appointment with the team.
The concept of universal design – making products and services accessible to everyone at whatever age – enhances lives. People want experiences that feel like they always have, and sometimes that entails excellent design to make sure they can access buildings, open doors and easily read signs and menus. Even the gym, which can be inaccessible to many, has been equipped with the world leading HUR fitness range – a brand specialising in rehabilitation, senior exercise, and wellness. The pneumatic technology and smart-computerised system replaces conventional weights in the equipment which is crucial for more efficient, safer exercise.
We are proud to have created quality living spaces for people seeking an independent, healthy, safe and sociable lifestyle. Serviced suites are finished simply with wooden surfaces, convenient storage areas, white tiles and prints from local artists. Along with furniture, the units come with bed linen, towels, kitchenware, internet and cable TV – all covered by the monthly fee. Even the fridge can be kept stocked with the delivery service option.
Meru Valley EcoVillage is a vibrant feel-good community, a world where age doesn’t matter. No one wants to be type cast into only mixing with one age group – that’s dull. Malaysia’s heart is diverse – and that means age too. After all, what makes life better for the older people, makes life better for the young. Our wellbeing service extend to new mothers wanting a restful confinement period to people with sports injuries needing complex physiotherapy or active recovery treatments. Our door to door shopping service works as much for a less mobile person as it does for a time-poor worker. A place for people who just want to live a healthier, hassle-free and independent lifestyle.
This is a good life, not the high life. Here people feel good and are keen to make a difference – they demand fresh air, a spacious green environment and a list of sustainable credentials. Homes in Meru Valley EcoVillage have rainwater harvesting systems that recycles rain water for external use, high level windows that allow natural sunlight and ventilation and solar heater systems that saves energy. This is a green village full of life – not boring and beige, which is often the only option local people have to choose from.
With time, we learn that you can’t define an audience simply by age. Besides nobody wants to admit that they’re getting old, and here they don’t have to, Everyone is welcome to live in the village where age doesn’t matter.”