Issues and Challenges Faced by the Elderly in Singapore

problems faced by elderly in singapore

In 2020, Singapore experienced a 26% spike in reported senior suicides, where 154 out of 452 were citizens aged 60 and above. This number has peaked since 1991, and according to the CEO of SOS (Samaritans of Singapore), increased isolation, mental stress, and weak family and social relations are some of the many contributing factors. The present senior population is around 500,000 and is expected to double by 2030, which is why it is extremely integral to provide an environment for the elderly where they are made to be like important members of society rather than a burden. But that can only be done once main problems and challenges are identified. This article covers a list of some of the most common problems faced by the elderly in Singapore.

1. Lack of Engagement and a Sense of Purpose

Ageism and out-of-date social practices have led to the elderly becoming cut off from the Singaporean community. There’s not much for them to do rather than sit at home and look forward to an occasional family gathering. On top of that, the pandemic has further halted whatever limited opportunities and activities that were available for the senior citizens, be it finding a new part-time job, indulging in an outdoor hobby, or simply socializing. Stricter and more extended lockdowns have induced depressive symptoms, pushing rates of mental health issues even higher. Fewer opportunities for physical and mental stimulation, infrequent valued interactions with loved ones, and an increased worldwide health fear are bound to bring negative repercussions for the entire population, especially the elderly.

Enabling older adults to responsibly indulge in meaningful activities, whether related to employment, community, or home will keep them busy and feeling useful. These can include paid volunteering jobs, movie nights, and other socially enjoyable events.  

2. Abuse and Mistreatment

With old age comes physical and mental weakness, resulting in dependency. Increased dependency on family members or inexperienced caregivers could potentially lead to mistreatment if the former isn’t aware of proper caregiving measures or just doesn’t want to. Similarly, if the caregiver experiences psychological issues, it could result in the possibility of elderly abuse. Neglect by busy family members is also one of the main challenges elderly people face, and it causes a lot of mental distress. For this reason, members of the family who are already juggling with other family and work-related duties should avoid undertaking elderly care. Instead, the responsibility should be assigned to professional caregiving, where the professional caregiver has the right tools and resources and can provide optimal support to care for elderly citizens.

3. Lack of Financial Security

Elderly Singaporeans with limited resources will find it difficult to upgrade their financial status in contrast to their younger counterparts owing to limited job opportunities. Once they enter their retirement age, a lot of elderly Singaporeans live on a fixed stream of income, which is not always enough to support the medical bills and the lifestyle they were used to. Especially in the modern age, as more families are becoming distant and people are choosing to live alone, older parents may have no choice but to live alone and take care of their expenses on their own.

For greater financial wellness of the elderly, people should create new job opportunities in the city, catered specifically for retired people, as well as new projects to plan and finance comprehensive senior care systems should be devised.

4. Everyday Struggle with Mobility & Daily Tasks

With older age comes the decline in one’s natural dexterity, which can make doing even the simplest tasks much more difficult. This can greatly hinder one’s social and work life and prevent one from living life like they once used to. To avoid this, there need to be more policies and programs that involve elderly people in a way that they can enjoy a safe, balanced and happy life. Professional care providers can also make life much more convenient and less stressful. 

everyday tasks for elderlies

5. Fear of Becoming a Burden

As people age, they become fearful about becoming a burden on their family, especially if they have failed to receive the necessary support and love in the past. In fact, research suggests that a lot of people who request euthanasia do it out of fear of burdening their loved ones. This usually stems from their loss of independence, health concerns, or a sense of being different than others, which can quickly trigger feelings of guilt, inferiority, and depression.

Choosing the Right Plan for Different Health Conditions

In today’s day and age, there is an abundance of different healthcare provision plans for the elderly, and picking the right one can become rather overwhelming. Most of the time, these elderly people are not even consulted and therefore provided with the wrong kind of support. For instance, a family that is not equipped to take care of a senior citizen might deem it best to give in-home care rather than seeking the help of a professional or a care home. For this reason, it is crucial to involve the person in this process so they can actively partake in the decision-making. Encouraging the elderly to seek professional support and help boils down to giving them control. If the decision is imposed on them, they might not react in the most positive way. For this reason, it is best to first give them all the available options and information they need to make an informed decision.

Dementia Care

Dementia is a blanket term used to define different symptoms affecting the memory and impairing the thought process as well as social abilities. In Singapore, dementia impacts around 5.2% of the ageing population above 60, and the numbers continue to rise. Though there is no set cure for this mental disability, there is the possibility of handling dementia with the right tools and increased awareness which can only be done by investing further in the healthcare system. If symptoms of dementia are detected and diagnosed early, and a dementia patient is provided with the right cognitive caregiving, we can expect to tackle this commonly faced challenge quite effectively.

Diversity in Ageing of Seniors

There is no set rule that defines a typical old person. There are certain 90-year olds who are just as physically and mentally capable as 30-year olds, whereas others start experiencing a significant decline in their capabilities during a much younger age.

It is also important to note that this diversity in senior age is not random and rather a product of people’s social and physical surroundings and the effects of these surroundings on their health. This can include the family, gender, religion, and ethnicity, which can create many health inequalities. To keep this in check, the right public health policy is devised to minimize, rather than encourage, these inequalities.  

Lack of Gerontological Data

Gerontology involves the study of physical aging and its effects on the mind as well as society. While the cognitive decline in old age is increasing, the social care resources available for older persons experiencing this decline are inadequate. However, there is still a lot of potential when it comes to home assistive technology that could potentially foster healthy ageing by effectively meeting the needs of senior groups.

What are the Needs of elderlies in Singapore?

With the increasing trend in falling birth rates, ageing population and changing living conditions, studies report that growing old in place has become a priority for elderly people once they have retired. Homecare services have become a critical aspect of hassle-free aging and can be provided even if a senior person is living alone or with family. In Singapore, elderly people have various social and personal needs, which include:

Needs of elderlies in Singapore

Independence

The majority of senior adults are hesitant when it comes to giving up their independence. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that their mobility, cognitive and physical abilities deteriorate over time, thereby requiring regular assistance with various tasks. If you as a family member are unable to oversee the daily needs of your loved one, then it is recommended that you hire professional help that will take care of all the important duties, such as medication management, food preparation, transportation, and housekeeping.

Savings

A good percentage of the Singaporean senior population is living on limited finance due to financial incapacity or increased expenses on healthcare services. To put this into perspective, an average senior citizen over the age of 65 who is living alone requires approximately $1,379 a month just for meeting the basic living standards.  If they rely on professionals for help on a daily basis, they would be able to save a good amount in the long term. That is because undertaking all household and outside duties with restricted physical and mental capacity opens a window for errors and even health hazards, which could end up costing the person a lot more than expected. Furthermore, hiring a caregiver for several days per week can prove to be quite affordable and can enable aging adults to save up for future use.

Socialization for elderlies

Socialization

One of the main reasons behind senior suicides in Singapore was the result of loneliness and depression that can stem from a lack of interaction with peers and family members. The elderly need to be regularly socialized in order to maintain their physical and mental longevity and have something to look forward to each time. During the pandemic, however, going out a lot might not be the best decision. To counter this problem, in-place caretaking is one of the best ways to ensure that your elderly family member is staying stimulated, as well as receiving all the desired help and support. Besides completing daily tasks, caregivers also make great companions who can organize both indoor and outdoor activities, ensuring that your family member maintains a healthy balance in their lives.

Physical & Mental Wellbeing  

Older adults experience more stressors as compared to an average adult due to continuous loss in their functional, physical and mental abilities. These might include fragility, immobility, or other health concerns like osteoporosis and heart disease. In addition to that, ageing usually brings along a decline in socioeconomic status and socialization, all of which can ultimately lead to mental distress, which might require professional care. In senior adults, physical health ultimately affects mental health and vice versa. For instance, hypertension might result in depression. For this reason, monitoring and maintaining both the physical and mental wellbeing of a senior loved one becomes extremely crucial. However, this can become a problem if you are unsure of how to manage the symptoms of such health problems are busy with other house or family-related duties, or are simply out of the country. In such a case, home care companies will be your best option. These professionals will make sure that your family member goes through regular check ups, is properly fed, medicated, and stimulated so that they can make the most out of their time at home.

Safe Environment

There are many concerns related to the elderly aging in a space that is not entirely safe, especially in a city. Assisted-living facilities normally provide a very secure environment that is aligned with the physical needs of old people; however, if you do not wish to uproot your elderly loved one from their current lifestyle, then you can create an at-home safe environment with the help of a home care provider. A good place is to start is by installing slip-proof covers on bathroom floors and also shower grab bars for added protection and smoother navigation, moving cabinet contents lower in order to improve access, and decluttering by getting rid of all items that could potentially lead to elderly falls.

Safe Environment for seniors

Summary

Ageing is inevitable and comes with a set of issues and health problems that, if not addressed properly, can result in serious trauma to the persons involved. If a beloved friend or family member is in need of quality and affordable care that will level up their physical and mental wellbeing, consult the experts at Home Instead. With our free and zero-obligation consultation, you can get familiarized with what we have to offer in terms of specialized services for the elderly. For more information, tips and guidance, contact us today!

References

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/community/452-suicides-reported-last-year-highest-since-2012

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/singapore-seniors-each-need-least-s1380-monthly-meet-basic-needs-researchers

https://www.healthxchange.sg/seniors/ageing-concerns/dementia-singapore