The Straits Times
Published on Dec 10, 2012

Regard seniors more positively


I AM in my mid-60s and have been retired for six years.

Today, seniors take part in many activities, and society has been trying to engage seniors more. But the generation gap between the elderly and the young, who organise the activities, creates conflicts and misunderstandings.

Many seniors nowadays are well-educated. However, many young people tend to subscribe to the stereotype that an old person lacks knowledge, and often talk condescendingly to him.

I sometimes do volunteer work and find it frustrating to deal with people who want to tap my skills but do not treat me with respect and consideration.

I was once criticised loudly and publicly by one of the younger volunteers for doing a bad job.

Many a time, I signed up to do volunteer work and was kept waiting to be told when to start. It was only when I called the organisations that I found out my services would not be required after all.

These organisations did not even accord me the courtesy of a phone call to tell me so.

Clubs, community centres and so on organise a wide range of activities which I take part in.

While I have had instructors who share their skills with no expectation of anything in return, I have noticed recently that are a few instructors who are not so gracious.

These instructors expect support from students just because they have put in the effort to organise activities for the elderly. They also do not understand when health or family matters prevent full attendance at classes.

Some also seem to be just trying to build up a record to attest to their "good deeds" and do not care whether their students are learning.

I am grateful to be ageing in Singapore at this time and I hope that young people are able to empathise more with the elderly and address this problem of a generation gap.

Tai Lung Keow (Madam)