Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Coddle.
“Lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin. Do you remember the last time you spent quality time with an elderly loved one, giving him or her your wholehearted attention? If that scenario does not come immediately to your mind, it has probably been awhile since then. Consider setting aside some time this weekend to reorganize your schedule, and make plans with your elderly loved ones.
While I applaud the Singapore Government’s push for multi-generational living under one roof, I am particularly concerned for the elderly with such living arrangements. Although it paints a heartwarming picture of 3 generations living together, I believe it can breed a form of complacency in caregiving. Are such families really happier than others? These elderly may spend more time with family members, but they might not be less lonely than the elderly that stay alone.
The intergenerational divide is closer to us than we all think. The young today are growing up vastly different from the previous generations. Singapore’s efficient and widespread system of healthcare remains promising in providing the physical support our elderly needs. However, the emotional support rendered to the elderly in Singapore remains questionable. This is further exacerbated by issues such as long working hours and social media addiction.
In 2016, the study done by a team from the Duke-NUS Centre for Ageing Research and Education revealed one surprising find that older women living with their children were not very socially integrated. A plausible explanation could be the traditional mindset and reluctance of the elderly to wash their dirty linen in public. They might be afraid to be perceived as ungrateful, therefore choosing to remain silent even if they feel neglected or lonely.
The salient issue in our society revolves around the stigma that the elderly are a burden and cannot contribute to society. I cannot emphasize enough of how changing this social perception is of vital importance, moving forward. Seeing elders as assets is a principle that can be applied anywhere. Start by empowering your elderly loved ones through letting them know about the options available for them.
The elderly can be equipped to contribute more to society while ageing with dignity. Let your elderly family members know that you support their pursuit of lifelong education, and also encourage them to take on roles in their community. The University of the Third Age (U3A) Singapore strives to enable seniors to lead meaningful and happy lives. At U3A, Learning Communities and Courses are available and set at an affordable level. Another available option is the Senior Wellness Programme offered by the Senior Academy under People’s Association. On top of taking modules specially selected to impart essential life skills that are useful and practical to participants’ daily lives, participants will also be awarded the Certificate in Senior Wellness.
The risk of social isolation among the elderly should not go unnoticed. What are you waiting for? Make time for your elderly loved ones today!
By Sammel Yeo
Sammel is a real estate undergraduate who aspires to bolster his professional understanding of what could be done for the ageing community. He is passionate about understanding the needs of the elderly, so as to better care for them in the most comfortable and dignified manner. In his free time, he loves to catch up with family and friends over a cup of freshly brewed coffee. His favorite kopi topics are the best makan places in Singapore and the promotion of social inclusion.