Forum: Combine best intentions with actions to fight ageism

I agree with Professor Tommy Koh that ageism still exists in Singapore (The global campaign to combat ageism, April 29).

From my encounters with seniors, I see that negative stereotypes and prejudices are still very much prevalent.

Over the years, the Government and other organisations have tried to make Singapore a more age-friendly society.

The Gerontological Society, founded in 1986, is one such body that looks at how to promote the interests of seniors through promoting gerontological education, training and research. Our tagline has been the changing of the mindset of young and old.

When the society was founded, very few people knew what gerontology was about.

Today, in Singapore, there are various tertiary education, training and research institutes in the field.

This year, the society celebrates its 35th anniversary. Our theme is "reimagining gerontology for the future".

To combat ageism, we need to engage the whole of society.

I propose using the three Es - education, empowerment and enforcement - to inculcate the right values in the young and highlight the rights of the old.

We need to continue our public education efforts, and ensure that the young have at least the right perceptions of and attitudes towards older people.

We need to empower our seniors by helping them gain the relevant knowledge and skills so that they can continue to be active advocates for themselves in society.

And lastly, even with our best efforts, we may still need the whip of enforcement to protect the more vulnerable seniors in our midst, but hopefully only as a last resort.

While the Government is reviewing the Action Plan for Successful Ageing, let us work together to combine our best intentions with actions to make Singapore an age-with-no-ism society.

Tristan Gwee

President

Gerontological Society