Govt plan to engage public on ageing issues

Govt plan to engage public on ageing issues
"One is that they don't feel obligated to support their parents as they learned nontraditional values and norms while receiving (modern) education. The other theory is that they feel obligated to provide for their parents as they received more support from their mothers and fathers than others. Our research findings agree with the former."

A NATIONAL action plan to help Singapore's seniors live meaningful lives as they age is expected to be ready by next year.

This "coherent national agenda" will include helping them learn new things, getting the workplace to be more welcoming, and making it easier for them to live with their families.

These measures will not just allow seniors to remain active, but also to have "their days filled with excitement", said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday.

This "Nation for all Ages" action plan he announced in Parliament will also cover employment, volunteerism, urban infrastructure, health care, retirement adequacy and research into ageing.

Mr Gan, who also chairs the Ministerial Committee on Ageing, said there will be a series of public consultations, starting from the middle of this year, to find out what people want. He said: "Ageing is a conversation that involves all of us - our aspirations for our silver years, how we hope to live our life to the fullest, how we wish to relate to peers and younger persons, and the kind of society we wish to live in when we age."

What Mr Gan wants to see is a shift in people's mindsets - "from worrying about the challenges that come from ageing to celebrating longevity".

Ageing and paying for healthcare financing were hot topics on Day 2 yesterday of the debate on President Tony Tan Keng Yam's address at the opening of the 12th Parliament's second session.

Suggestions on how to help seniors remain financially independent included higher Central Provident Fund contributions and better ways to unlock their flats' value.

Outlining in broad strokes the way forward, Mr Gan said it includes people having longer years of productive lives and how "the workplace can be made more welcoming and empowering for our seniors to put their experience and talents to good use".

He cited St Luke's ElderCare, which provides a range of daycare services for seniors, where 86 per cent of its local employees are 40 years and older.

The masterplan will also provide better support for multi-generational families in terms of housing and having care services in estates for seniors to age at home.

Although 5,000 more nursing beds will be added by 2020, the minister prefers to see seniors continue living at home by providing them with the services they need.

The whole-of-nation conversation will include not just the public, but also businesses, unions, academics and voluntary welfare organisations. Mr Gan wants experts to leverage on technology to make it easier for seniors to continue playing a role in society.

He hopes this national action plan will be ready by next year, when Singapore turns 50. "We will turn longevity into our advantage. MOH will help Singaporeans to live long, live well, and with peace of mind."

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