Families must be at the core of elder support

Like South Korea, Singapore will undergo a painful transition from an ageing society to an aged one, and eventually a super-aged one ("S. Korea's growing problem of elderly poor"; Dec 19).

With our excellent healthcare, people will live to very old ages.

The elderly must be encouraged to remain healthy. This can be done by giving them access to free or affordable health checks and having them remain active, delay retirement and participate in activities.

Tackling the issue of an ageing population is a complex and challenging process, especially since our elderly population is not homogeneous, with the baby boomer and pioneer generations being less well educated and less vocal than the latest generation of elderly folk.

It is always a work in progress.

The state has improved its policies and schemes, such as introducing the Central Provident Fund Life, lease buyback and silver housing bonus programmes.

But it can do only so much. Families must also do their part in taking care of their elderly.

In fact, Singapore must focus on placing the family at the centre of the support framework, so it is the primary source of support for the elderly.

Individual self-reliance is also crucial. The Government should be the last resort.

Francis Cheng