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Seniors at successful ageing discussion say they prefer to age in place

To age in place, living independently within a supportive community was the desire of many seniors who were at a focus group discussion on senior-friendly homes on Saturday (Aug 30). 

SINGAPORE: To age in place, living independently within a supportive community was the desire of many seniors who were at a focus group discussion on senior-friendly homes on Saturday (Aug 30).

It is the second in a series of public discussions on the national Action Plan for Successful Ageing. The plan aims to engage Singaporeans to come up with strategies to help seniors age successfully. It will look into eight areas, including lifelong learning, health and wellness and retirement adequacy, with discussions centred on building 'A Nation for All Ages'. Participants will identify the areas they feel are most important in determining successful ageing. 

Over half of the 44 participants at the discussion on Saturday were above 60 years old. Most of them said they would rather live in the same flat as they age than to move in with their children. And even if they require more assistance, many preferred right-sizing their apartment or turning to other options like living in a retirement village.

Some participants said they did not want to force family members to take care of them, citing changing social dynamics and generational differences. Others preferred to stay within familiar surroundings than move out.

The participants asked for more to be done to create a better environment for community integration and mutual support among the elderly such as providing better spaces for communal daily activities between seniors such as cooking or eating.

They also suggested outreach initiatives such as training 'senior ambassadors' - who may be younger seniors physically fit enough to do regular house visits but are old enough to empathise with the concerns of their charges - to interact with lonely seniors.

"They probably want to feel that 'I can be as independent as I can for as long as I want to, for as long as I'm able to', be it financially or even physically. Living with their children may give them the sense that they are dependent on their children physically. So they do not mind or would want to live near their children so that emotional support can be made available, but at the same time they want to be as independent as they can," said Dr Mohamad Maliki Osma, Minister of State for National Development.

"What came across today was also the sense of community. Many of the seniors spoke about the need for the community to come together - neighbours coming together to support one another, to recognise and identify vulnerable elderly neighbours, for example. I think that's also quite positive, because I think many are beginning to realise that we need to build a community that's mutually supportive of one another," he added.