'Be more sensitive' to needs of the elderly

'Be more sensitive' to needs of the elderly
Participants discussing ideas yesterday at a public focus group on how to make public spaces and facilities more elderly friendly, at the Social Service Institute.

Civic consciousness here has to mature alongside an ageing population, said Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman yesterday, as he urged the younger generation to be more sensitive to the needs of the elderly. "It's a real challenge moving forward unless the community appreciates the needs of the seniors," said the Minister of State for Defence and National Development.

Dr Maliki, who is Mayor of South East District, said he often gets competing demands from residents in his constituency.

For example, the elderly would ask him for more benches at void decks so that they can sit while waiting for their grandchildren's schoolbuses, said Dr Maliki.

But one younger couple asked him to "please take out the benches because the old people sit there and make a lot of noise".

He was speaking on the sidelines of a public focus group on how to make public spaces and facilities more elderly friendly.

About 50 people, half of whom were aged above 50, attended the 21/2-hour-long session, organised by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing to gather feedback for its action plan for successful ageing, Some of the ideas the participants came up with include building more public toilets, having fitness corners on the rooftop of Housing Board blocks, and putting more amenities within five minutes' walk from homes of the elderly.

Said 67-year-old retiree Lee Wooi Sing: "Whenever I go to Ang Mo Kio bus interchange, I always have difficulty finding the bus that I need to take as there are not enough signs to guide the elderly."

Mr Lee, who lives in Woodlands, said that he has also noticed how an overhead bridge that leads to Marsiling MRT is not completely elderly friendly when it has an escalator on only one side of the bridge.

Some of these issues are already being looked into by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing, Dr Maliki said.

Dr Maliki said that while it is easier to build infrastructure such as public toilets, Singaporeans should also build up the kampung spirit.

He said: "It's the spirit of being sensitive and appreciating each other as much as we can. Some level of give and take, some level of appreciation of what it means to have benches at the void deck spaces... accept the fact that there will be some level of noise."

joycel@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 07, 2014.
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