Giving women tools for active ageing

In our fight against diabetes ("MOH to wage war on diabetes"; April 14), we are also waging war on other chronic conditions, such as hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Incidentally, heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of death among women in Singapore.

Society for Wings, or Wings, is Singapore's only registered charity and Institution of a Public Character that is singularly focused on promoting active ageing for women, by enabling them to take responsibility for their health, security and happiness in a holistic approach.

We have, even before our nation declared war on diabetes, encouraged self-management to prevent chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

In addition to our programmes on financial security and management, as well as on self-awareness and community participation, Wings regularly conducts a 10-week health programme, specially tailored for women, that emphasises adopting a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and going for regular health checks.

In a shorter six-week programme, women are encouraged to create a health action plan, understand the merits of early detection, and adopt good dietary and lifestyle habits.

But winning the war on diabetes requires a mindset shift and changing habits. Thus, Wings endeavours to support women in the following ways.

Training courses are "ammunition" to help shift mindsets. Through peer-mentoring, women who have undergone training volunteer to conduct future courses for other women, hence, reinforcing what they have learnt.

The women are also encouraged to form support groups to make change easier. These mentors, as we call our volunteer trainers, are not healthcare professionals, which, in itself, is an inspiration to all who wish to practise self-management.

As ongoing reinforcement of this lifestyle and behavioural change, daily exercise classes are conducted to support women in keeping themselves fit and active.

We also organise talks on health, happiness and security.

At Wings, we empower women to age with confidence by giving them the skills and tools to make good choices and, we hope, to become happier while building their support networks.

We are grateful that government funding through the National Silver Academy initiative will soon be available to Singaporeans who are aged 50 and above.

It will help to make lifelong training for women more affordable so that they, especially those in vulnerable segments, can be equipped to win the active ageing battle.

Lee Yuit Chieng (Ms)

Chairman, Programmes Committee

Society for Wings

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'Giving women tools for active ageing'. Print Edition | Subscribe