New policies must not leave the elderly behind

In recent times, the Government and other agencies have been actively pursuing new policies to go digital and decrease the use of paper and cash in transactions.

Old methods, such as the use of Teletext for share trading, have been phased out in favour of computerised methods. The option of having printed statements is no longer available at many banks.

On top of that, in hospitals and government agencies, staff do not speak dialects, and do not seem to be able to speak any language but English.

These changes can be very stressful for the elderly.

It is important to remember that not everyone possesses the same capabilities.

Many of the elderly had not received formal education. They are less IT-savvy and are fearful of using computers, ATMs and many of the electronic devices. Making them adapt to new technology is not easy.

In this case, it is vital to cater to the lowest common denominator.

While the new policies may have significant benefits, we must also be considerate and inclusive when implementing them, and not leave our elderly behind.

People-friendly policies are something we should never forget, even if having them incurs costs.

Let us retain the paper or cash options for a while longer; the new methods can co-exist with the old ones for another few years.

Peter Loon Seng Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2017, with the headline 'New policies must not leave the elderly behind'. Print Edition | Subscribe