Feb 14, 2014

    Ageing gracefully in an inclusive society

    DURING this festive Chinese New Year period, many Singaporeans will be visiting their families and friends. This is a time of reunion, joy and bonding. Many of us tend to give in to the temptation of overeating.

    Even while we enjoy the festivities, we need to watch our health. This means we need to eat in moderation, have balanced meals, exercise regularly, stay smoke-free and maintain a positive emotional well-being.

    We can also encourage one another to stay on track on this healthy-living journey. For those who are unwell, help is available to guide them on the path to recovery.

    Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Madam Sa'odah, 58, and her family, who reside in my constituency. Her loving and filial daughter, Liza, cares for her full time.

    From being independent, Madam Sa'odah had become bedbound after a stroke last year and had subsequent hospital admissions.

    It was inspiring to see that, despite the difficulties, she is not giving up. With the assistance of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital's transitional care (TC) team, she was able to recuperate at home.

    This meant that Madam Sa'odah could be in the comfort of a familiar environment with her loved ones, instead of staying in the hospital or a nursing home.

    The multidisciplinary TC team consists of doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals, such as therapists. The team helped to train Liza to care for her mother.

    She witnessed how her mother's condition stabilised and improved over time. With better care, patients like Madam Sa'odah would have fewer readmissions and a better quality of life.

    The use of TC is an example of how we are transforming our health-care delivery services.

    Instead of caring only for patients within their walls, hospitals are now moving out into the community to provide care to their patients. Other public hospitals are running similar services.

    The Ministry of Health will continue to innovate and ramp up services such as TC, so as to provide quality health care in an accessible and sustainable manner for all Singaporeans.

    Aged care is only one part of how we can support our seniors to age in place. We need to also empower our seniors to lead healthy, independent and meaningful lives.

    We can start by increasing our awareness of and developing a positive mindset towards ageing and health.

    This creates an open and inclusive environment in which our seniors can age gracefully.

    Each individual must also learn to take responsibility for his or her health. Keeping healthy allows us to have a good quality of life as we age.

    In this Chinese New Year, let's make a dedicated effort to reach out to our families and friends, including seniors, on the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

    Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim is parliamentary secretary at the ministries of Health and Transport.