Few individuals in the prime of their youth are likely to think about ageing and plan ahead for it. Indeed, entire nations are also in a state of denial. A third of the countries surveyed by HelpAge International are simply not doing enough despite their growing ageing populations.
Out of curiosity, some might focus on the best spots on the planet to age. Well, Norway tops the list, taking into account health care and wellness, housing and transport, and job and education opportunities that benefit the aged. These are important, of course, but one should not fixate solely on retiring comfortably, either through one's own means or state support. Either might not be enough as longevity becomes the norm - as much as a third of one's life could be spent as a "senior", among those with a pipe dream of retiring early.
Certainly, the aged sick and poor will always be with society and will warrant collective support. But can more be done also to harness the energy and multiple interests of the "new old", who tend to be better educated and better off in asset terms? With some 900,000 people here expected to be over the age of 65 by 2030, there is a sound basis for drawing up an ambitious $3 billion national plan for "successful ageing".
Of course, any ageing plan is not about just distracting an army of listless elders with a continuous series of activities aimed at them. There are many facets to developing "a city for all ages" that should concern Singaporeans of all ages. After all, age-linked changes will affect everyone inevitably, and inactivity can affect seniors' health and pose a social burden. Importantly, seniors are a valuable resource whose wide interests ought to be tapped more and not just left on the shelf .