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Tips on how to age and age well

Tips on how to age and age well

Published on

05 Dec 2023

Published by

The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Anyone can get old, but ageing well is another matter entirely.


One who mastered that was the late Queen Elizabeth II, said Professor Koh Woon Puay, assistant dean for faculty development at the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.


The British Queen lived a remarkably long life, dying at 96.


With her in mind, Prof Koh said successful ageing can be defined as “high physical, psychological and social functioning in old age without major diseases”.


Apart from the objective markers of ageing well, such as avoiding diseases and disability, having high physical and cognitive functioning and being active socially and productively, Prof Koh said subjective indications also need to be considered.


These include being satisfied with life; having a positive self-perception of one’s health, function and well-being; and being well emotionally, psychologically and socially.


In other words, healthy ageing is ageing gracefully.


Here are tips from Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Eric Chua, referring to the US National Academy of Medicine’s Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity. Mr Chua, who is also Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth, is MP for Queenstown in Tanjong Pagar GRC. Queenstown has one of the oldest populations in Singapore, with almost one out of every four Singaporeans aged 65 and above living there.


Address ageism and strengthen inter-generational cohesion


To deal with social isolation and reduce ageism, there should be programmes to include both the young and old within communities. Inter-generational programmes can provide diverse opportunities to address loneliness and generate social inclusion within communities.


Redesign work, jobs, education, training and reskilling


This allows older people to have a sense of purpose and to continue contributing to society, either through paid work or volunteerism. Governments, employers and educational institutions need to invest in redesigning education systems to support lifelong learning, look at the science of learning and training for older adults, and support training pilots that allow older adults to retool for multiple careers and/or volunteer across their lifespans.


Keep everyone healthy throughout their lives


This is where Healthier SG comes in. Launched in July, the programme aims to shift the focus of the healthcare system from treatment to prevention and deliver better healthcare value, addressing the swell in chronic disease burden and accelerating healthcare expenditure.


Strengthen financial security, especially in old age


Financial security into older age can allow people to live with dignity, contribute to their communities and have good quality of life, especially when they are unable to work. Financial security in older age allows people to have good quality of life, regardless of their work history or social status.


Review first/last mile issues for public transport


One challenge is getting public transport users from the starting point of their journeys to a place of transport and the final destination. Whether due to travel time, cost or other personal factors, the distance between the starting point in the journey and the transport has presented a challenge to elderly residents trying to increase access to public transport within a city.


Review walkability and informal gathering places


Given that physical activity has a direct correlation with physical health and can indirectly impact social engagement, developing neighbourhoods and communities that support walking by individuals can enable healthy longevity. Factors such as ambient temperature, rainfall, mosquitoes and air quality have to be considered.


Have people use social networks throughout their lives


Interventions geared towards building social cohesion and social capital within communities can contribute to the cultural change needed for older adults to be more engaged in their societies. 


Address issues resulting from digital technology


Increasing access to and familiarity and comfort with digital technologies has the potential to decrease isolation, increase engagement and improve access to virtual services such as telemedicine for the elderly.



Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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