The effects of an ageing population are dynamic and transformative for any nation. In a 2017 United Nations report, almost half of Singapore’s population is projected to be at least 65 years old by 2050. This reality will impact many sectors of society including trade and economy, housing, city planning, social and family development, and healthcare services.
In this three-part episode ‘Road to Meaningful Ageing’, Professor Kalyani Mehta, (Professor of Gerontology, SUSS S R Nathan School of Human Development) invites Chan Wing (Senior Centre Manager, PAP Community Foundation) and Alan Wong (Manager of Home Care Services, AWWA) to discuss meaningful ageing: what it is and how we can encourage it.
According to Professor Mehta, meaningful ageing is different from successful ageing. It goes beyond managing one’s health and ensuring high performance in one’s later years. “We're talking about the spirit of the person; as long as the spirit is alive, one would want to contribute, to their family and society,” she adds. Meaningful ageing could entail providing care for one’s grandchildren or committing time to contribute to voluntary causes and more.
There is more that can be done to prepare Singapore for its fast-ageing population. “It’s very hard to find people to join us, be it in Home Care or at the Senior Centre,” Wing muses. Policies can be crafted to acknowledge and encourage volunteers to contribute in the sector, while mainstreaming gerontology knowledge helps to shape public perspective on the importance of caregivers and sympathise with the challenges of ageing.
While policy changes take time to implement, Alan acknowledges networking between government agencies, social service organisations, and charities remains key to improve Singapore’s senior care community.
"Providing care should not be an isolated service. It must collaborate with all other services. That is why I also advocate networking between agencies" Alan advocates.