Singapore's seniors will soon count for a quarter of the population
by Steve Suwannarat

By 2030 there will be over 900,000 in the city-state. Currently the main challenges for the local government concern the organization of space and the cost of care. In some facilities, fees can be as high as 3,200 euros per month.

 


Singapore (AsiaNews) - The Singapore government has set ensuring the well-being of the elderly as a priority, promoting extended autonomy without excluding them from active life. But as the number of elderly people grows, so do the difficulties for the city-state to take care of them for reasons of cost and space.

Efforts to find new solutions to the growing number of seniors also include housing in small facilities in residential areas that do not separate residents from the usually very active community life in condominiums and neighborhoods.

The Assisted Living Facilities Association, for example, is a non-profit that promotes appropriate care for senior citizens in homes or centers where in small groups they can share services, meals and social and health programs. The model has been welcomed by the government, which has so far launched 169 of these "community care apartments." However, they have a major limitation: they can accommodate a very small number of elderly people compared to requests and require fees that can reach up to 5 thousand Singapore dollars per month, about 3,200 euros.

This possible solution, initially welcomed by both the public and private sectors, is part of a range of possibilities designed by the government to cope with what several observers indicate as a "tsunami" in the making. In 2019, public and private facilities in the city (which has a population of about 5.7 million) could accommodate only 16,000 seniors. Today, the over-65s are 17.6% of the population, up from previous years given the relative scarcity of births, only partially offset by immigration. It is estimated that by 2030 the elderly will be 25% of the population, more than 900 thousand, many of whom have medical needs. The 2020 census showed that there are 70 thousand over-65s in poor health.

It is a challenge to which the system is currently failing to respond adequately: on the one hand, if adequate services were guaranteed, many seniors who are housed in the various facilities could live in their own homes independently; but on the other hand, confinement in the home denies them access to entertainment and cultural services or physical activities available outside.

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