Get seniors to run self-help group for seniors

As Singapore's population ages rapidly, it is only natural that more public discourse and resources will be focused on this burgeoning segment of society.

We have seen how successful the various community self-help groups have been in serving their own unique needs.

After all, who can be clearer about the problems they face than the groups themselves?

In addition, wastage in outreach efforts is reduced as their programmes are more targeted. Speaking the same language certainly helps.

In the light of this, why not have seniors run a community group that helps the old?

Such a grouping will be highly effective in catering to the needs of the old among us.

Letting them set their own agenda and run the show will invigorate the many in their ranks who are still able-bodied.

Besides, many of the seniors have invaluable life experiences and skills that can be utilised. By gathering together for a productive purpose, they can keep one another company, enhancing both their psychological and physical well-being.

In fact, the not-so-old could run childcare facilities or daycare centres for the aged, plugging the human resource gap in the social care sector.

Instead of duplicating public facilities across the island that cater to seniors, combining these in convenient locations will serve a larger number of them.

Larger and better facilities could be built because of economies of scale. Professional care resources could also be shared.

To start the ball rolling, perhaps, the many social organisations and the Government should get together to explore the idea of setting up this "for the aged, by the aged" self-help group.

But first, let us begin by asking the seniors what they truly need.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2016, with the headline 'Get seniors to run self-help group for seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe