SUSS Service-Learning & Community Engagement Sectors: Ageing & Elderly
Are we ready for the silver tsunami?
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 older persons, defined as aged 65 and above, will hit 900,000 by 20301.
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.
What does this mean for us?
(Credit source: Refer to infographics Reference 1, 2 and 3)
The impact will come in many ways. Firstly, the change in family structure. Today a generic family will have fewer older adults. By 2030, there will be likely a reversal of what we see today with more older adults than younger ones. This means that there is likely to be more dependents (older persons 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.
What are some challenges that older adults face on the ground?
Despite government’s efforts and commitment to battle issues impacting the older adults 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. Other ageing challenges included health concerns, such as chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes; lack of caregiver and financial worries due to delay of pension payment and retirement age.
Single older adults households is another worrying trend in Singapore. According to Department of Statistics, the number of old adults aged 65 and above who live by themselves has nearly tripled over the last 15 years to 42,100 in 2015, up from 14,500 in 2000. These older adults who live alone not only face loneliness and social isolation, but also higher mortality risk.2
What policies and infrastructures do we have in place now to combat such concerns and issues impacting our older adults population? What can the larger community do to address such concerns? What can you contribute as part of these community initiatives? These are pertinent questions that we will need to address collectively as a society, to ensure that our older adults population can grow old in confidence in Singapore.
(Credit Source: Refer to Infographics reference 4 and 5)
Engaging and mobilizing our older persons as assets: New opportunities
In 2015, the Ministerial Committee on Ageing (MCA) launched the Action Plan for Successful Ageing to chart the direction for Singaporeans to age confidently. In 2o22, this Action Plan has been enhanced to place focus on initiatives that foster care, contribution and connectedness6.
Successful Ageing: Care, contribution and Connectedness:
Initiatives that 1) enable seniors to manage their physical and mental well-being through active ageing programmes; 2) empower seniors to contribute their knowledge and experience through senior and intergenerational learning, seniors’ volunteering and active employment; 3) encourage seniors to stay digitally connected and provide them enhanced access to support networks and ageing-in-place facilities.
Seniors enabling seniors
Meet Ms Ho Soo Pong who is a senior volunteer with The Organisation of Senior Volunteers RSVP Singapore.