By 2017, Singapore will no longer be an ageing society. It will enter a new phase – an aged society.
Singapore will make the transition from an ageing to aged society in a short span of 19 years, well within a child’s growing-up years.
The ageing phenomenon is not unique to Singapore. But the challenge for us is greater, as our pace of ageing will be much faster than that experienced by many other developed countries. At 19 years, the pace of ageing we will experience is even faster than Japan’s - the world’s most aged country - which took 26 years to make this transition. By comparison, France took close to or more than a century at 115 years, and Sweden took 85 years!
And it doesn’t stop there. By 2024, Singapore will become a ‘super-aged’ country with 20% of our citizen population aged 65 years and above.
What does a faster pace of ageing mean for us? We will have a shorter time to prepare our infrastructure, healthcare and social institutions for an ageing population. Society will feel the fast pace of change, with many more mature workers and seniors in the workplace and community.
The community and the government are already gearing up for our rapidly ageing population. Expect to see a greater push towards active ageing, and encouragement and support towards staying healthy and involved for longer. We will also see expanded healthcare facilities and more hospitals, both acute and community, for Singaporeans to better access healthcare. More aged care support facilities are also being planned around the island. In the workplace, the government is working with employers and the community to create a friendlier work environment for seniors. For example, measures such as WorkPro encourage businesses to redesign jobs to tap on the skills and experience of mature workers.
While we cannot stop the pace of ageing, we most certainly can make the changes needed to prepare for what’s to come.
New and upcoming hospitals in Singapore. (Source: MOH)