Empower the elderly through employment

I would like to add to Mr Jeffrey Law Lee Beng's points ("Vital to help seniors feel connected with society"; Dec 19).

Apart from familial support and constant home visits by grassroots organisations, elderly folk who live alone need to be gainfully employed.

By having jobs, these lonely senior citizens will have a real purpose in life. Employment will help to redeem their pride, lift their morale and make them feel like they are still contributing to our society.

Apart from spending their time meaningfully, elderly folk will no longer think they are being marginalised and ostracised by society.

The Government, in collaboration with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), should shoulder this noble social responsibility of providing employment for the elderly.

As long as this group of people are medically fit, they should be offered every opportunity to be employed.

In other words, senior citizens should be empowered to decide the manner in which they desire to live out the rest of their lives.

Jobs available to the elderly should, however, not be too physically and mentally demanding, nor should they entail long working hours.

The work done should be matched to their work experience, physical status and aptitude.

Employers do not need to be overly concerned with the payout of monetary remuneration as, apparently, this is not viewed as too critical a consideration by the elderly.

By keeping their minds active and sharp, the elderly can enjoy a more value-added and meaningful life while lessening the burden on the rest of the population.

It is not an overstatement to say it is a luxury to retire in old age, considering the high cost of living here.

This is evident from the elderly folk we see collecting and selling carton boxes or cleaning tables at foodcourts.

Most, if not all, engage in such work out of sheer necessity rather than out of passion or as a hobby or pastime.

If the above measures are adopted and successfully implemented, Singapore should see significantly lower suicide rates among the elderly who live alone.

Teo Kok Seah