Healthy, productive seniors will lower old-age dependency

In a column on April 13, a question was raised about whether a retiree should be counted as a dependant economically if he has saved enough for his remaining life ("How elders' savings alter support ratio").

In a society where the average expected lifespan is rising by three months every year, we will see many Singaporeans living past 100 in the next 20 years.

Middle-aged workers struggle to bring up their children and support elderly folk at home, while the younger generation tend to spend faster than they can save.

In addition, one of the largest expenses for the elderly will be healthcare costs, which are expected to rise rapidly. There is also the issue of inflation, which will drive up costs.

Therefore, to lower the old-age dependency ratio, it is not enough to think in terms of a "savings adjustment".

We need a "health adjustment". We must strive to become a nation of independent elders who are fit for life.

First, this will reduce the problem of rising medical costs.

Second, the elderly can remain productive and be income earners until a ripe old age.

We need a mindset change in both the young and the old, the employer and employee, and the private and public sectors, to enable active seniors to be productive so that life in the advanced years will be fruitful and meaningful.

Geoffrey Kung