The truth is that, unless you are Jennifer Lopez or Michelle Pfeiffer , you are going to grow old and wrinkly someday. I am honestly looking forward to those days where I can sit around home and knit or go to the cinema and paying ” senior citizen prices”. I can’t wait for them. But is Singapore really a country that is accommodating to an elderly? Is it a practical place to be able to live comfortably in their golden age? Does this bustling and fast paced city at least have the people who build it in the back of their mind?
I took it to the streets to see for myself. Here are 4 age friendly and 3 non age friendly things about Singapore that I’ve noticed. As an elderly, I imagine that many will have issues with walking down the stairs.
Thankfully I saw that most buildings in my neighbourhood were equipped with lifts that attend to all levels. Most of us take lifts for granted but it is essential in an elderly’s life. Infact , according to Singapore Department of Statistics, in 2010 2.4% of elderly are non ambulant. They can now leave their blocks with ease by themselves. A decade ago this would have been practically impossible. I am not even going start about how helpful this is to the semi ambulant elderly. This shows that Singapore cares about their well-being to build lifts like this. I hope more lifts like this are to come everywhere soon.
Following that is the availability of ramps. I feel that ramps are very important. This plays in the same theme of many elderly have pain in their legs and issues related to that. Ramps help them to move about with ease.
Relating to the 8 principles WHO’s Age , this satisfies the housing aspect. It is well designed and safe for the folks. It makes mobility easier for them. They feel more independent and empowered.
Another way that SG is age friendly is the priority seats and queues designated for them. A few years ago , the priority seat was a hot topic everywhere. The priority seats is not only for the elderly but also for pregnant woman and the disabled. To be honest , I feel that though there is priority seats for them, People usually give up their seats for them. People do look out for them. Then there is the priority queuing that I feel is extremely good and necessary. I feel that this is done out of pure respect for them as our foundation of this country. This aligns with the 8 principles through Transport and basically Respect. These priorities are given out of respect more than pity is what I feel. Furthermore these seats provide assurance of safety and hence the elderly are more inclined on using them.
Additional age friendly factor : Availability of exercise corners designed for the elderly. When it is ready for them to use, they are more likely to use it. Hence this encourages healthy lifestyle among elderly which also helps social participation.
Now for the 3 non age friendly factors that I feel SG can work and improve on. Firstly, overhead bridges. To be honest, I feel that most people dread taking overhead bridges. Can you imagine the suffering of the elderly? Most overhead bridges do not have traffic lights nearby for elderly to use for as an alternative. They would have to walk quite abit to find a traffic junction to use. Seriously Singapore, everyone hates overhead bridge. With the increase in technology advancement, I believe you can do something about this. Even as simple as adding a lift at each end of the bridge might work.
I know this may seem like a small and simple-minded thing to raise as an issue, but I took this picture because while waiting for a bus at the interchange I noticed from afar how an elderly man was struggling to bend over to get his drink. I feel like these small things may not be huge to us, but to them this might lead to them feeling powerless. When I grow old and start feeling like I need to ask help for simple things like getting a drink, I can imagine how over time it may affect the way I see myself. From the 8 principles, lets not bring the seniors esteem down. Lets make the place to retrieve your drinks alittle higher and help our elderly stand tall and proud to be able to help themselves !
In accordance to the 8 principles which includes affordable health services, nursing homes are not cheap here. Singapore has an ageing population hence the old folks home scene is almost inevitable.However it is not very affordable , causing people to send their parents to our dear neighbour Malaysia. This proves that prices need to come down to help things be more affordable. If not this will lead to more adults abandoning their parents overseas. This is terrible and something needs to be done about it. The further away our elderly is away from home, the more alone and unwanted they may feel.
We should never forget to feed those who fed us.