Cheaper wheelchairs for needy elders

SINGAPORE - Needy senior citizens will receive help to buy equipment such as wheelchairs from a new fund.

Up to 90 per cent of the costs will be subsidised under the $50 million scheme.

Foreign Affairs and Law minister K. Shanmugam launched the Senior's Mobility and Enabling Fund yesterday at an event in Yishun called Ageing Gracefully at Chong Pang.

Other mobility devices covered in the subsidy include motorised scooters and walking sticks.

Thye Hua Kwan Chong Pang Social Service Hub is the contact point for elderly people on the scheme.

Mr Shanmugam said Singapore's ageing society "is going to require a lot more health care resources - it's going to require a lot more people going into it and also then you have to look at how it's going to be paid for".

He added that the Social Service Hub, launched in March, gives senior citizens a sense of community.

Mr Satyaprakash Tiwari, divisional director of Thye Hua Kwan, said: "Many of our members cannot afford wheelchair costs."

Singaporeans have to be aged 60 and above to benefit from the scheme. They will undergo means-testing except for those living in three-room HDB flats.

Ms Tay Kwee Lan, whose 75-year-old mother is a benefactor, said: "In the past, it was hard to travel very far. The wheelchair was too expensive. Now, I can take her to more places."

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