Friday, August 27, 2010

Active Ageing Index and the plight of the elderly (Letter to Forum Page Editor)

Hi Friends,
The following was sent to the Forum Page Editor.
Awaiting publication ( if approved)

The Editor,
XXX Forum page

I refer to the article “Not-so-golden years for the elderly in Singapore”.

The report by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) academics confirmed what most of us had long suspected. Amongst the elderly surveyed those who scored high for active ageing ranged from a low 5 percent for those aged 65 to 69 and decreasing further to a dismal 1 percent for those aged 75 and above. One in five felt that they had insufficient income for living.

As pointed out by Mr. Gerard Ee, chairman for the Council for Third Age, the plight of our elderly is worse than our neighbors’ as Singapore does not have a country-side for our elderly to escape to and they have to contend with the rising cost of living like the rest of us.

How many times have we said to ourselves when we see an elderly sweeping the condominium grounds or wiping the table at the food court that it is just not right that in “First world” Singapore, the elderly are not benefiting from nor sharing the fruits of Singapore’s prosperity.

How can our welfare safety nets be so porous that so many of these elderly- who had helped build up the economy, are falling through them in droves and are now left to fend for themselves?

I feel that not enough is being done for our elderly poor. I would not be unhappy if funds presently allocated to big-ticket items like the YOG had been channeled to alleviate the plights of this increasing underclass. Real help is needed – not tokenisms.

Only when our elderly have an opportunity to experience truly “golden years” can we say that we have arrived as a nation.

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan