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    May 28, 2014

    Congrats! You've lived a long life

    IN ORDER to change the narrative of ageing - from one of worry to one of celebration - the necessary provisions must be in place to support Singaporeans to achieve "successful ageing", said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

    Hence his ministry will be embarking on a "coherent national agenda" - an action plan that will cover seven areas, including employment, urban infrastructure, health care and retirement adequacy.

    This will be coordinated by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing, which will hold a series of public consultations from the middle of this year.

    Singaporeans, along with voluntary welfare groups, businesses, unions and the academia, will be asked for their suggestions on what can be done to promote successful ageing.

    Architects, IT experts, and urban and transport planners will also be engaged, to come with ideas to leverage on technology to make it easier for seniors to continue to stay active in society.

    "Let us now change the conversation about ageing - from worrying about the challenges that come from ageing to celebrating longevity," said Mr Gan.

    This sentiment was shared by Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor, who said that, at times, it is not just health-care affordability, retirement adequacy and employment issues that faze Singaporeans in their old age. In fact, ageing also brings a set of "psychological and emotional challenges".

    Hence she urged Singaporeans to tap on opportunities that arise from their increased life expectancy, instead of worrying about problems of ageing.

    "While some see the demographic burden of an increasingly aged population, I see opportunity in longevity," she said.

    Dr Khor noted at many seniors are already enthusiastic contributors to society, and said that "chronological" age does not equate "health".

    Outlining some of the areas that can be looked at, Mr Gan raised questions in Parliament yesterday, on what could be done to help seniors remain active and to have their days filled with excitement, as well as how they can be kept in the workforce.

    He alluded to St Luke's ElderCare as a good example of an organisation with a comprehensive age-friendly human resource strategy, and asked what more can be done in Singapore to "tap on the talents and growth opportunities from a workforce that will enjoy longer years of productive lives".

    The action plan, which the Ministry of Health aims to have ready by next year, will also provide better support for multi-generation families, in terms of housing and amenities in the heartland.

    "We will turn longevity into our advantage. The Ministry of Health will help Singaporeans to live long, live well, and with peace of mind," said Mr Gan.