Conversation on Successful Ageing
Singapore’s population is ageing rapidly – with 1 in 4 Singaporeans expected to be 65 or older by 2030. Based on the 2019 Global Burden of Disease study, Singapore had the highest life expectancy and health-adjusted life expectancy in the world; that means that Singaporeans are living longer, healthier lives. The Action Plan for Successful Ageing was launched by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in 2015 to chart the way forward for Singaporeans to age more confidently and gracefully.
To ensure that the plan remains relevant to the needs of today’s and future seniors to help them stay active, healthy and engaged, MOH and NYC organised a youth conversation to hear youth’s perspectives on ways to help seniors age positively and gracefully.
The conversation seeks to focus on the following 3 areas:
(i) Providing opportunities for seniors to share their experiences with younger people at the workplace;
(ii) Helping youths and seniors be financially savvy and independent; and
(iii) Encouraging intergenerational interactions in the community.
WHAT WE HEARD
Conversation on Successful Ageing (28 July 2021)
The conversation on successful ageing was held on 28 July 2021 via Zoom, involving 44 youths and Mdm Rahayu Mahzam, Parliamentary Secretary (Parl Sec) of Ministry of Health & Ministry of Communications and Information.
Here are the key insights of the conversation raised by the participants:
Youth and seniors could learn from one another at the workplace
- Tap on seniors’ wealth of experience – Participants said that they appreciated how the strengths of seniors complemented those of younger colleagues in the workplace. They shared experiences where they benefited from senior colleagues’ expertise and guidance. Participants suggested having more mentorship programmes and casual networking events to promote intergenerational interaction in the workplace to tap on each others’ strengths and knowledge.
- Youth and seniors should treat each other as equals – Participants said that open-mindedness and mutual respect were vital in fostering an inclusive workplace. They encouraged workplaces to avoid age discrimination, which would help build trust between colleagues despite age differences.
- Mindset shifts are crucial to bridging intergenerational divides – Participants recognised that youth may stereotype seniors as “boomers”, being slower or out-of-touch with new trends. Conversely, seniors may view youth as the “strawberry generation”, pampered and unable to face challenges. They called for both sides to be open minded and look beyond age differences to understand and engage each other.
Taking a holistic approach to retirement
- Preparing for retirement is a long-drawn process – Participants recognised that retirement is a transition everyone would eventually go through. They acknowledged that financial preparation was key, and highlighted that additional factors such as a sense of fulfilment and good health were needed in order to enjoy one’s retirement.
- Build money, social and health capital – Participants said that seniors and pre-seniors should start planning for retirement at an early age. They recommended three factors – money, social networks, and health (e.g. savings, hobbies or caring for one’s health) – to be taken into consideration in advance.
- Have conversations with parents about retirement – Most participants did not consider their parents ready for retirement or were unaware of their parents’ retirement plans. They said that the lack of discussion on this topic resulted in uncertainty over how to forward-plan their own finances. They suggested for children and parents to have open conversations, to enable both parties to plan their finances accordingly.
- Create a safety net – Participants called for more safety nets to support vulnerable seniors (e.g. seniors who hold low-skilled jobs, are self-employed or are ex-convicts) when they retire. They said that such seniors would have low to no funds in their CPF, and suggested having more efforts to ensure that they remained financially independent after retirement.
Seize opportunities to build intergenerational bonds
- Foster shared interests through fun – Participants said that a mismatch in hobbies and conversational topics were barriers to intergenerational interaction. They suggested that youth and seniors could bond through exploring historical sights or food (sharing recipes, going on food trails or making TikTok videos on cooking).
- Start small – Participants affirmed that two-way sharing of knowledge and experiences was beneficial. They said that individuals did not have to look far to foster intergenerational interactions, and could start small by interacting with their grandparents or elderly neighbours.
- Make the effort to communicate – Participants said that relationship-building could be facilitated by using one’s mother tongue or dialects. They acknowledged that learning new languages and dialects would require effort, but would also allow greater connection between youth and seniors.
Keen to find out more about successful ageing and how youths have stepped up to support our seniors? Check out these articles and links: