Singapore is ramping up the building of eldercare centres, with a target of 220 by 2025 compared with the current 119. Nursing home bed capacities have already been bumped up by 70 per cent between 2010 and 2020 to 16,200 beds, and there are plans to double this to more than 31,000 in the next 10 years. These efforts will go some way towards meeting the needs of Singapore's rapidly ageing population. It is estimated that by 2030, a quarter of the population will be aged 65 and above. This statistic already shaped Singapore's policymaking in the past decade, and there is more awareness about the needs of this demographic - propelling everything from the 2015 Action Plan for Successful Ageing to the 2020 population census report which captured statistics about self care and mobility needs. Life expectancy has gone up from 82.8 years to 84.9 years from 2010 to 2019, so the future crop of seniors, which includes a good proportion of healthier and more active citizens, will live longer.
The boomers and Gen Xers who will be the "new old" are more aware of health and financial issues and better equipped to deal with ageing. But they have higher expectations of a better quality of life too. The reports of the Ang Mo Kio blocks chosen for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme are instructive in this regard. Some older residents fretted about possibly paying more for a replacement flat of the same size, while others worried about taking on an unexpected financial burden late in life. This issue is likely to recur and is a reminder that officials will need to be mindful of the concerns seniors have about facing undue disruptions to their retirement plans. This might entail more integration across agencies and better dissemination of information to deal with such issues as they arise. It is sensible to build bulwarks now to ensure the coming silver wave is properly buffered.