Empathy vital in addressing ageing issue

Empathy requires the immersion of an imaginative mind into the actual living conditions of the aged, which encompasses more than economics.
Empathy requires the immersion of an imaginative mind into the actual living conditions of the aged, which encompasses more than economics. PHOTO: ST FILE

I was hoping to read some details in Mr Kwan Jin Yao's letter on exploring younger people's views on the ageing process (Explore what younger people want in ageing process, April 13).

Unfortunately, Mr Kwan provided only a brief and broad suggestion.

I agree that at present, "we do not have an adequate understanding of first-hand ageing or caregiving needs".

One word came to mind in raising this issue - empathy.

It seems that few people can empathise unless they have personally experienced a situation of providing care for the elderly sick.

Empathy requires the immersion of an imaginative mind into the actual living conditions of the aged, which encompasses more than economics.

A culture that puts the value of life in dollar terms invariably narrows the focus of finding a solution through only economics.

Until we dare to imagine boldly and put ourselves in the situation, without being constrained by the lack of financial resources, few will be able to empathise.

Our planning and forecast for providing care to the ageing segment of society will remain limited and unresponsive to their real needs.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2019, with the headline 'Empathy vital in addressing ageing issue'. Print Edition | Subscribe