5 Reasons Singapore Is the Best Place to Grow Old
The population of people 65 years and above in Singapore is about 11.8% of the total population and it is expected to reach at least 20% of the total population by 2030. So, whether you are outside the country contemplating your retirement or you a citizen approaching the retirement age and worried about your twilight years, be rest assured that Singapore is the best place you can be. Below are the top 5 reasons why you will love growing old in Singapore.
The government has overtime committed itself to planning for Seniors or the ‘Silver generation’ as they are fondly called because of the silver colour of the hair that comes with ageing. With the focus on helping them grow older with confidence, age gracefully and have access to opportunities regardless of their age, several schemes and policies have been integrated.
Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) is one of such programmes developed by the government to offer seniors up to 95% subsidies on the installation of improvement items like grab bars and slip-resistant bathrooms.
Another initiative is the Comcare Long Term Assistance which enables seniors unable to work to receive up to $1,180 in cash assistance quarterly for procurement of basic needs. The Silver Support Scheme, on the other hand, affords seniors who were low-income earners while working and those with little or no family support the opportunity to receive payouts of between $300-$750 every quarter.
Senior citizens also enjoy lower rates on buses and trains with the use of their Senior citizen concession card.
In August 2015, the Ministerial Committee on Ageing revealed a $3 billion national plan to enable senior Singaporean citizens to stay active for longer called the Action Plan for Successful Ageing. This elaborate plan contains about 60 initiatives cutting across 10 areas. The 10 areas covered are:
- Employability: ageless workplaces and lifelong employability
- Lifelong learning: never too old to go back to school
- Senior volunteerism: helping others to live fulfilling lives
- Aged care services: remaining independent while ageing-in-place
- Health and wellness: healthy seniors are happy seniors
- Social engagement and inclusion: connecting people of all ages
- Housing: to support changing needs
- Transport: transforming the travel experience
- Public spaces: making urban infrastructure more senior-friendly
- Research on ageing: understanding the needs of the ageing population and encouraging innovation.
Healthcare and Welfare
Singapore has one of the best healthcare systems in the world and this extends to care for ageing people. On top of that several policies have been put in place by the government to help retired Singaporeans access quality medical services.
Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) is an example of such a policy. Singaporeans born on or before 31 December. 1949 and obtained citizenship before 31 December 1986 are all eligible for the scheme. One of the main benefits is a 50% subsidy on services and medications at polyclinics and specialist outpatient clinics in public hospitals. Eligible citizens are also given access to subsidies for other general purpose medical schemes.
Seniors living in Singapore also have access to mobile health services within their communities. There are also regular seminars and talks organized for seniors by the National Seniors’ Health programme on health issues affecting them like nutrition, mental wellness, exercise and chronic disease management.
Since July 2017, the re-employment age for senior workers in Singapore has been raised to 67. This means that older workers can keep working for longer if they want to provided they want to and are mentally and physically able to. Most seniors say they want to keep working for a long time beyond the official retirement age because they want to retain their independence and because it keeps their minds active. This is also good economically as Singapore has a tight labour market and the best way to satisfy the demand for labour is to re-employ workers who are able to work.
Plans for senior employability also include the redesigning of jobs to offer older workers more flexibility. That way they are kept away from jobs that may be too physically demanding from them. Seniors are also given access to trainings to bring them up to speed with current trends and are exposed to career guidance and transition programmes to help them remain relevant in the workforce. Older workers are also allowed to try out for jobs via internship and job trials.
With the establishment of the National Silver Academy (NSA), Seniors in Singapore are afforded the opportunity to fulfil their learning aspirations proving that it is never too late to go back to school. The purpose of the academy is not just to help the seniors learn but to create a new mindset about ageing, teaching the younger generations that learning does not stop at any age.
The academy is not a physical institute but a virtual network of education institutions and voluntary welfare organisations. Seniors are allowed to pursue learning in many areas subject to their where their interest is. A subsidy of up to 50% is available to those who register for short courses offered by post-secondary education institutions and voluntary welfare organisations.
For a token fee, they can register for and take selected full qualification courses offered by polytechnics and universities without needing to take exams. Seniors can attend intergenerational programmes in schools where they will learn alongside the younger generation. Peer learning sessions are also facilitated where seniors teach one another.
The Central Provident Fund is a government-sponsored initiative that enables Singaporeans to have a safe and secure retirement. Singaporeans and permanent residents are mandated to save using the CPF scheme while they are still actively working to fund their three key needs: retirement, healthcare and housing. It is an employment-based savings scheme in which employees and their employers contribute a stipulated amount to the Fund.
The CPF contribution rates have been raised since inception to enable workers to save more for their retirement nest eggs and enjoy a more fulfilling life after work.