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Pre-empting the challenges of ageing

04 December 2012

Minister Chan delivering the opening address

Ageing is not a crisis but an opportunity. Ageing is only a crisis if we do not apply our minds and think through the issues and put into action some of the measures to pre-empt the challenges. In fact, we have to be mentally, psychologically and financially prepared to live longer. Mr Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, highlighted these points at the Europe-Asia Forum on active ageing and intergenerational solidarity on 30 November.

Minister Chan outlined three sets of things that need to be improved moving forward - mindset, software and hardware. In terms of mindset, he urged Singaporeans to save at least one third of their salary given that people work for 40 years and yet are expected to live until about 80.

"In Singapore, we try our best to maintain the principle where each generation will save and pay and take care of itself. So that we don't impose the burden on future generations," he said.

As for software, people beyond the age of 50 should be able to contribute to the workforce so as not to lose their earning power. For instance, technology can be used to enhance work. At the same time, care options for the elderly need to be reviewed.

Going beyond "micro innovations" such as barrier-free access or lifts with voice sensors, Minister Chan said that there are also macro issues such as urban planning that have to be considered. He noted that the experiences of other countries can offer customised and optimised solutions in the context of Singapore.

The forum provided a timely platform for Asian and European experts to share their insights and discuss good practices from their countries. Topics covered included employment for senior citizens and intergenerational harmony, housing options for the elderly, lifelong learning and intergenerational solidarity.

Organised by the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the European Union Centre in Singapore, the forum was held to commemorate the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.