Large-scale plan to empower the ageing, help them live happy, meaningful lives

SINGAPORE - Singapore is planning a "coherent national agenda" to enable people to live meaningful lives as they age.

It includes giving them opportunities to learn new things so they not only remain active, but also have "their days filled with excitement".

This ageing masterplan will also cover employment, volunteerism, urban infrastructure, healthcare, retirement adequacy and research into ageing.

Announcing this in Parliament on Tuesday, Minister for Health and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Ageing, Mr Gan Kim Yong, said there will be a series of public consultations starting in a couple of months, to find out what people want.

He said: "Ageing is a conversation that involves all of us - our aspirations for our silver years, how we hope to live our life to the fullest, how we wish to relate to peers and younger persons, and the kind of society we wish to live in when we age."

The whole-of-nation conversation will include not just the public, but also businesses, unions, academia and voluntary welfare organisations.

What Mr Gan wants to see is a paradigm shift in peoples' mindset "from worrying about the challenges that come from ageing to celebrating longevity".

Outlining in broad strokes some examples of the way forward, he said it includes people having longer years of productive lives and how "the workplace can be made more welcoming and empowering for our seniors to put their experience and talents to good use".

He cited St Luke's ElderCare where 86 per cent of their local employees are 40 years and older. Its culture of lifelong learning "has shown that given opportunities, seniors can continue to contribute meaningfully".

The masterplan will also provide better support for multi-generation families in terms of housing and having care services in estates so seniors can age at home.

Although 5,000 more nursing beds will be added by 2020, he prefers to see seniors continue living at home by providing them with the services they need, where they are.

He said: "We will also give home care a big push to support seniors to age in place."

Mr Gan also wants to see architects, IT experts and urban and transport planners leveraging on technology to make it easier for seniors to live and to remain part of society.