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    Feb 26, 2014

    S'pore on its way to 'super-ageing'

    SINGAPORE is well on its way to becoming a "super-aged" nation, with two back-to-back reports coming as a stark reminder of the silver tsunami.

    A super-aged nation, according to the United Nations, is one where over 20 per cent of the population is aged 65 and above.

    Japan is the first country to be accorded the status, and the Republic looks set to follow. By 2030, about one in five people here will be 65 or older.

    And by 2050, there will be only two persons of working age for each person aged above 65, according to a report by Allianz Global Investors on Monday.

    The investment company, which conducted demographic research, said in the report: "By then, Singapore will not be able to avoid the problems super-aged Japan is already facing. The difference will only be in terms of the timeframe."

    Meanwhile, another survey has found that nearly four in five Singaporeans plan to rely on their personal savings and investments as a primary source of income after retirement.

    Ironically, many still aim to retire early. The poll by global survey firm Nielsen, released yesterday, found that three in 10 Singaporeans want to retire before 60.

    Some 500 Singaporeans took part in the Internet poll between August and September last year.

    The survey also found that Singaporeans' biggest fear about ageing is not having enough money to pay medical bills. Other worries include not being able to look after themselves and losing physical agility when they age.

    Saving up for the golden years instead of splurging on a lavish lifestyle before retirement is important, said Mr Gerard Ee, chairman of the Council for Third Age, which advocates active ageing and lifelong learning.

    "The worrying thing is that people are not doing enough to save for the future," Mr Ee told MyPaper. "We need to strategically plan, what do you live on to support yourself for the next 20 years after retirement?"

    Singapore is not like Hong Kong, which also has an ageing population. Hong Kong is dynamic and is supported by people from China, said Mr Ee. "Singapore is very contained."

    He added that dealing with the situation is a "work in progress".

    On Friday, in his Budget speech, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam gave details of the Pioneer Generation Package, which consists of lifelong health-care benefits for some 450,000 pioneers.

    The pioneers are defined as Singaporeans aged 65 and above this year, and who became citizens before 1987 if they were not born here.

    Benefits include subsidies for outpatient care and Medisave top-ups, all to be paid for from an $8 billion fund set aside in the Budget.

    Meanwhile, MP Lee Bee Wah, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Social and Family Development, said that she hopes there will be more non-governmental organisations, and more entrepreneurs, willing to set up non-profit organisations looking into the needs of the elderly.

    She added: "When the Government has to set up old folk's centres, we hope people understand and not cry out 'not in my backyard, don't put them there'."