Parliament to discuss how to better support seniors

Other ideas that will be raised include providing more comprehensive housing solutions for seniors and assisted living, strengthening community support for them, providing more help for caregivers and encouraging volunteerism. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party Seniors Group (PAP.SG) will be leading a discussion in Parliament next week on how to help the elderly age with dignity.

The group has filed a motion to debate the issue, which could lead to discussions on redefining ageing in the workplace, helping seniors monetise their properties and helping them become more digitally-savvy.

Other ideas include offering more housing solutions for seniors, strengthening community support for them, providing more help for caregivers and encouraging volunteerism.

In a statement on Friday (Feb 2), the group said Nee Soon GRC MP Henry Kwek has filed the proposal for the issue to be considered and it will be supported by five other MPs. These are Dr Lily Neo (Jalan Besar GRC), Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC), Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson), Ms Rahayu Mazham (Jurong GRC) and Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC).

Other MPs and nominated MPs will also weigh in on the discussion.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin said the PAP advocacy group for seniors believes that the elderly play a valuable role in society.

"Our vision must be one where Singaporeans live long and age well," said Mr Tan, the new chairman of the group, PAP.SG.

There is much that can be done to strengthen support for seniors to age well and work has begun in this area, he noted in a statement.

He added: "We will take the lead to rally our community to foster an environment where our seniors can thrive. It involves all of us and this is one vision that can be realisable."

Mr Kwek, who filed the motion, said ageing can offer "positive possibilities".

He said: "We can unleash this 'silver dividend' of the energy and wisdom of seniors through smart policy and community efforts."

Mr Kwek noted that this is a good time to take stock of progress made since the Government launched the Healthcare 2020 Masterplan in 2012 and the Action Plan for Successful Ageing in 2015.

In recent months, the issue of the elderly has been in the spotlight.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has said that Budget 2018 will feature more support for seniors as Singapore faces a rapidly ageing society.

By 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above.

This will lead to greater healthcare spending over the long term. In Budget 2017, $10 billion was allocated for healthcare expenditure, and the amount is expected to go up to at least $13 billion by 2020.

Mr Heng had noted that seniors face diverse worries from healthcare needs to loneliness to finance, and the Government "will have to think about looking at the issues in a more cross-disciplinary way, across agencies and ministries".

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