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Seniors looking after older ones can help elderly age in place: Shanmugam

Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said the government is encouraging active seniors to become volunteers, given that Singapore is "ageing so fast" and the number of volunteers is dwindling.

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Eileen Poh on 02 Nov 2014

Channel News Asia

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As Singapore's population ages, active seniors can play a role in providing care to the older ones. This can help the elderly age in place, said Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam on Sunday (Nov 2). The government had forecast that in 2030, the number of residents aged 65 years or older will hit 900,000.

 

Mr Shanmugam, who is also the MP for Nee Soon GRC, was speaking to reporters at Active Ageing Carnival in his constituency. He said: "Given that we are ageing so fast, we'll have to look at slightly senior citizens looking after even older people. Because the number of volunteers is going to be coming down, because people above 65 - many of them will continue working if they are healthy - we are encouraging them to become volunteers."

 

Over 1,000 residents participated in the carnival - an initiative to encourage active ageing and volunteerism among seniors. The carnival saw five senior volunteers - the oldest, aged 77 - receiving awards for their efforts in helping other seniors.

 

Nee Soon GRC has 298 volunteers who are above the age of 60. About 28 per cent of its residents are more than 50 years old. Khoo Sam Yak, a 77-year-old volunteer from Nee Soon South, said: "I am helping others, and I still have the strength and ability to do, so I will help. But I will not be able to contribute financially (chuckles). I find volunteering interesting and so I have been doing it, and it has been 24 years since I started." 

 

Another volunteer who received the award is 68-year-old Vivien Ow, who also works part time at a nursing home. "My kids and grandchildren are all grown-ups, and I have time. I would like to use my time to join activities and help others. I feel happy when the seniors are happy, too," she said. "The younger volunteers typically take on tasks that are more laborious. For us seniors, we usually sit with the older folks and it helps, because we, being seniors ourselves, understand and know what they need." 

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