SUSS Service-Learning Sectors: Ageing & Elderly

Singapore has one of the fastest ageing populations in the world. As our post-war Baby Boomers turn 65 years old from 2012 onwards, Singapore will experience an unprecedented age shift. The number of elderly citizens, defined as aged 65 and above, will hit 900,000 by 2030.

With the current low birth rate and without immigration, Singapore’s population will begin to shrink by 2025. As more citizens retire and with fewer entering the working-age band, the number of working-age citizens will start to shrink by 2020.

The impact will come in many ways. Firstly, the change in family structure. Today a generic family will have fewer elderly members. By 2030, there will be likely a reversal of what we see today with more elderly members than younger ones. This means that there is likely to be more dependent (elderly and children) in a family unit.

For society as a whole, a declining old-age support ratio points towards an increased tax and economic burden on our working-age population. An ageing population also means a less vibrant and innovative economy, and fewer young people available for a defence force. Demand will rise for services such as healthcare and other social services. More importantly, the rapid pace of ageing means that we have a much shorter time frame to adapt to these changes.

On the Ground
Despite government’s efforts and commitment to battle elderly issues, there are still many with low income, who continue to depend on their social network for a significant portion of their livelihood and face financial hardship. There are also reported cases of violence against and abuse of older persons, including financial abuse. What about those elder abuse cases which are not being reported?

Solo elderly households is another worrying trend in Singapore. According to Department of Statistics, the number of old people aged 65 and above who live by themselves has nearly tripled over the last 15 years to 42,100 in 2015, up from 14,400 in 2000. These elder persons who live alone not only face loneliness and social isolation, but also higher mortality risk.

Looking at the issues, who are the people who have been working on the elderly issues? What are the policies and infrastructures in place now? How can you help by contributing your time through different community services working closely with the elderly?

Ageing Challenges:

Financial worries: many countries delaying pension payments and raising the retirement age
–      Social tension
–      Health concerns: chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes
–      Mental health
–      No caregiver

 
For information and support related to care-giving, call:

Singapore Silver Line: 1800-650-6060
Hua Mei Centre for Successful Ageing (Tsao Foundation): 6593-9500
Care Line by Touch Caregivers Support: 6804-6555
AWWA Caregiver Service, Caregivers Infoline: 1800-299-2992

(Last updated as of July 10th, 2019)

1. Post-war baby boomers refers to those born from 1947 to 1965.
2. Elderly Population in Singapore: Understanding, Social, Physical and Financial Needs, 2015 (Part 1). By Lien Centre for Social Innovation at Institutional Knowledge at Singapore Management University.
3. Our Population, Our Future”, Issues Paper July 2012, by National Population and Talent Division (NPTD), Prime Minister’s Office: https://www.nptd.gov.sg/PORTALS/0/NEWS/ISSUES_P.PDF
4. Ref: NPTD Occasional Paper on Citizen Population Scenarios available at www.population.sg.
5. Issues of ageing, http://www.population.sg/ageing
6. Ref: WHO Statistics, 2014
7. Ref: Singapore 3rd in global life expectancy rankings
8. Vital Statistics, 2018
9. STATISTICS SINGAPORE - Complete Life Tables for Singapore Resident Population 2017-2018

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