Younger Singaporeans more worried about ageing: Global poll

Ms Masako Wakamiya created her first iPhone app at age 81 because she wanted to give other seniors something fun to enjoy on their smartphones or tablets.
Ms Masako Wakamiya created her first iPhone app at age 81 because she wanted to give other seniors something fun to enjoy on their smartphones or tablets. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

But nearly 70% of S'poreans above 50 'feel positive' about growing older, says global poll

People who think about ageing the most are in their 30s, while those in their 70s worry the least about growing old, said a study by global consultancy firm McCann Worldgroup. It also found that people in their 20s fear death the most.

Titled The Truth About Age, the report, launched in Tokyo last week, polled 24,000 people across 35 countries, including the ageing societies of Japan and South Korea.

The study also polled 500 Singaporeans, and the findings largely conform to the global norms: Younger Singaporeans are more stressed out about ageing and afraid of dying than older people.

The report found that stereotypes are very much skewed towards common perceptions of how people of a certain age should look or behave, despite age having "undeniably become a much less reliable predictor" of style, success, health or attitudes.

"Age in this modern world is wildly complicated," said Ms Suzanne Powers, global chief strategy officer of the McCann Worldgroup. "But it is still one of the most useful and simplest measures that we have. Facebook has over 50 options for gender, but our age is our age - we can lie about it but we can't change it."

Among the Singaporeans polled, nearly half of those under the age of 30 said they constantly worry about growing older, compared with 36 per cent of those aged above 50. Almost six in 10 Singaporeans aged below 30 agreed with the statement, "I'm afraid of dying", compared with three in 10 of those above the age of 50.

  • Japan's sprightly seniors

  • TOKYO • Ms Masako Wakamiya was 81 last year when she created her first iPhone app. This year, she was invited to the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.

    "I wanted to try to make something fun," she said in Tokyo last week at the launch of The Truth About Age study by consultancy McCann Worldgroup. "More and more seniors are using smartphones and tablets, but there are not many game apps that seniors can enjoy."

    Her Hinadan app, which borrows from the tiered platform for ornamental dolls used during the annual Japanese Doll Festival, has drawn 42,500 downloads. She said: "I now want to learn programming thoroughly, and update my app and make it available in English."

    Ms Wakamiya is among many Japanese seniors who have confounded age expectations. Others include Instagram celebrity couple @bonpon511 - both are over 60 and have more than 545,000 followers.

    Ms Fumie Takino, 84, continues to lead Japan Pom-Pom, a cheerleading squad she founded over two decades ago. The troupe now has more than 20 seniors, averaging 70 in age.

    Last year, a band of five elderly men from Kochi prefecture, with an average age of 68.2, released its first single album. The oldest member is 81-year-old Hidetada Yamada.

    Even so, concerns over the rapidly ageing population are rising among Japanese youth. "Many are getting more concerned about dementia and taking care of their parents... These concerns are weighing on the young," said McCann Japan planning director Jun Matsumoto.

    Walter Sim

One Singaporean respondent in his 20s said: "Ageing for me is not just about retiring nor is it simply about 'getting old'. For me, it's about making sure I'm financially stable and able to support my loved ones. This is the most important thing when I think about the future."

In contrast, nearly 70 per cent of Singaporeans aged above 50 said they "feel positive" about the idea of ageing. One Singaporean respondent in her 70s was quoted as saying: "I'm not retired. I'm not working either. But when people ask me if I'm retired, I say no!

"I'm still walking around, I'm still active and I'm living my life."

Summing up the report's key takeaway, Ms Powers said: "Ageing isn't just for the old, living isn't just for the young."

  • 50% 

    Among the Singaporeans polled, nearly half of those under the age of 30 said they constantly worry about growing older, compared with 36 per cent of those aged above 50.

  • Almost six in 10 aged below 30 agreed with the statement, "I'm afraid of dying", compared with three in 10 of those above the age of 50.

The report was launched in Tokyo in recognition of Japan's rapidly ageing population.

"Traditionally, the ageing conversation has been reserved for those above 65, but it should not be about a particular demographic, but about the process," Ms Powers said. "It goes far beyond the number we attach to ourselves."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2017, with the headline 'Younger S'poreans more worried about ageing'. Print Edition | Subscribe