Participation key to ageing well

I am heartened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's optimistic view of longevity ("Turn longevity into a positive force: PM Lee"; Nov 20).

Given that Singapore has the fourth-best life expectancy rate in the world ("S'pore ranks world No. 4 in longevity"; May 27, 2013), Mr Lee's pragmatic approach to active and healthy ageing is timely and noteworthy.

Our women can expect to live to 85 years old, and men to 80. We should not endure old age, but enjoy it.

The years we gain with increased longevity can be as enriching and productive as any other if we continue contributing something important to society and to ourselves.

This can help keep us feeling a sense of self-worth, which in turn can be a great impetus to personal growth, even in our twilight years.

Although Singapore has its ageing policies and programmes to promote wellness among older people, a mindset change is required for the policies to succeed.

We need to change how our society views ageing and older people, and efforts have to be stepped up to challenge the attitudes and perceptions of our young people towards ageing.

With a projected figure of 900,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and older in 2030, we need to be better prepared to confront the fears and anxieties that come with ageing.

The Government has tried to address these concerns, such as by extending the re-employment age, making jobs and workplaces more senior-friendly, encouraging life-long learning and providing affordable healthcare.

But all this will come to naught if we fail to play an active role in our well-being as we advance in age.

We thus have to adopt a holistic approach that involves sharing with others, participating in community, promoting inter-generational cohesion and paying attention to our well-being physically and mentally.

What people look forward to in their ripe old age is quantity of life with quality.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng