Doing away with retirement age will help more seniors

Doing away with the retirement age will open up new doors for seniors who are still healthy enough to work.
Doing away with the retirement age will open up new doors for seniors who are still healthy enough to work.PHOTO: ST FILE

I agree with the points made by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam about the retirement age ("Tharman: S'pore's retirement age has to go at some point"; Tuesday).

Doing away with the retirement age will open up new doors for seniors who are still healthy enough to work. They will then worry less about whether their savings can last their entire lifetime.

Seniors do not wish to be an economic burden to their children and grandchildren. Hence, enhancing their economic security by allowing them to continue working is a good idea.

Another reason why the retirement age should go is the growing trend of single elderly people, particularly those who are professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

It is very likely that these people have sufficient savings or other forms of passive income for retirement. For them, it is a case of encouraging them to work to ensure that they are able to keep their minds active.

Continuing to work provides them with a degree of social interaction which, studies have shown, could reduce the possibility of dementia. This is preferable to having them spend all their time watching TV on their own.

However, the discussion has revolved around the assumption that retirement is a possible option for everyone.

This is sadly untrue. It has become more common now to see seniors taking on physically exhausting work, such as cleaning tables in hawker centres.

It is important to ensure that there are jobs created for less-skilled seniors that are catered to their reduced physical abilities.

Older workers are a huge asset to Singapore.

They have worked hard all their lives, and it is tempting to call on them to retire fully.

However, we should listen to their wishes to continue to stay employed as long as their physical health permits.

What society and the Government could consider doing is reduce the physical demands that their jobs have on them, through innovation and automation.

That way, we can promote a higher rate of employment of older workers that can contribute greatly to our workforce and economy.

Lionel Loi Zhi Rui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2016, with the headline 'Doing away with retirement age will help more seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe