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Aging Population – What it Means to Us!

It’s close to an hour past
midnight on a Saturday morning (yesterday). Hunger strikes and I could not sleep. I prepare
cup noodles and switch on the TV. Browsing through the
channels, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) programme “Perspective” caught my eye.
 I think it was a repeat telecast.
CNA “Perspective” – Global Aging Challenges
This episode of
“Perspective” addressed the issues of Global
Aging Challenges. 
I am captivated by the subject discussed, as it is going to affect not only me, but also Singapore future
generation! 
This programme showcase a forum
with four panellists, a moderator and audiences held in Singapore Management
University (SMU). The panellists are:
  • Professor Bryce Hool, Dean,
    School of Economics, SMU
  • Ms Mary Ann Tsao, Chairman
    of the Tsao Foundation
  • Ms Soh Swee Ping, CEO,
    Council for Third Age
  • Mr T K Udairam, Group CEO, Eastern Health Alliance

For more information, refer
to
CNA website link here.

“By 2050, two billion people will be aged 60 and above. A vastly ageing
population coupled with stagnating birth rates presents looming challenges for
most developed nations. Their biggest gripe – how to replace their ageing
segment with able-bodied citizens, prompting governments to revise their
policies and approach to adapt to changing demographics. How will the world
deal with the challenges of this “grey tsunami” that will soon engulf us?”

Singapore Low Fertility Rate
Singapore’s
total fertility rate (TFT) slipped again to 1.19 last year, compared with 1.29
in 2012.
This
is way below the replacement rate of 2.1. This means that the population
entering workforce is less than that exiting. In the long term, it will have a
negative impact to the economy.
The total fertility rate
for the Singaporean Chinese, which account for over 70% of the local
population, was even lower at 1.06. Government had been trying to resolve the
low-fertility problem through immigration and incentivise Singaporeans via
various comprehensive baby bonus measures, and hoping to
raise the total fertility rate to near 1.4 or 1.5. Does not seem to work effectively so far! 
According to a Moody Investor
Service Report recently, “Singapore will be a ‘super-aged’ society in just 15
years, and halt economic growth” Read news here.
Dean of SMU School of Economics,
Bryce Hool also mentioned that based on the current statistics for Singapore,
in less than 40 years, there will be a transition from 7 workers per retiree to
just 2. 

By 2040, someone 65 years ago can expect to live to 90. I belong to this group. I
will be 62 by 2040. Sounds scary, isn’t it? Is it all that bad?
How to Deal with Aging Population 
I taken some notes during
the one-hour show, but hope the accuracy of the contents will not be compromised,
since its 1 am in the morning and I am eating, listening and writing all at
once. Together with more informations unearthed from CNA website, I documented
the some interesting points below.  
A young audience questioned “The old people are less creative and less
innovative, how to deal with this problem?”
Ms Soh Swee Ping said:
“Aging is not necessary so bad as it may seem. While in economic terms,
it will have a negative impact, but the senior can contribute socially such as grandparenting,
volunteer work, and the society with old people by and large is a better place
to live in.”

The young can run faster, it is true. But the old know all the short-cuts!
How to measure productivity? The young and old contribute differently in
different system. 
We should help the older generation to create a second career life after
they retire.”
She also mentioned the
need to use more positive language such as
“Harnessing their potential,
maximizing their experience, instead of saying old people is greying
Tsunami”
Mr Udairam said:
“It is just like a badminton game. When you are 20-30 years
old, you run around the court a lot being active and aggressive and win the
game. When you get older, you run lesser but manage the court more
intelligently and can still win the game.  
Turning 60 marks a new phase in your life. Living means enjoying life and
working is part of life you need to enjoy. We need to have new jobs for the
old.
Innovation itself is not related to age, but instead on the personality
and environment.”
Ms Mary Ann Tsao said:
“The old tends to have a broader perspective in life and sharper in
making decisions, while the young is generally more dynamic, energetic and can
work much longer hours. It is a question of making jobs suitable for the aging,
utilising their experience. A company needs a combination of old and young
talents.
All people matters (including the old). Today we look at
everyone value in the society only on productivity and economic sense. But it
is not correct. Older people play different roles in terms in how they hold
family together, how they hold social values together beyond ability to work in
a traditional sense.
Also when older people are re-employed they can create a whole new
business opportunities, because older people are also consumers then.”
Another audience said “we should keep senior healthy and engage
them actively.”
Professor Bryce Hool said:
“Population and mindset today may be different compare to the future.
The 60 of today may be the 40 of future, and 80 being the new
60 years old.
Business such as healthcare and retirement homes may be geared towards
the old and it is still good for the economy and promotes investment.
  
Historic Boxing Match in 1974: 32 year old Muhammad
Ali KO the younger and stronger 25 year old George Foreman who is the then
overwhelming favourite to win. The elder Ali adopted the rope-a-dope tactic
where he frequently lean on the rope and cover up. As a result George Foreman spent
all his energy throwing punches that did not hit Ali, before Ali delivered the
killer punch.
Government to Promote Active Aging
An audience said “I am 51 and just completed a diploma in
design, but I could not get a job for months. The hirer complained that I am too
qualified! While I am happy in my retirement, I want to continue working.”
 
Another questioned “Will scholarship be provided for a 55 year
old, even he had the ability today?”
Further questioned, “Why are we so focus on fertility and not
focus on active aging.”
The issues of lack of
attention to elder generation by the government are addressed. Some audiences
said that our government is still favouring the young and look at people in
terms of economic use only. 
Ms Soh then mentioned that
actually our government had already been doing a relatively good job. They are
putting together more concerted efforts in promoting active aging and healthy
living.
Professor Bryce mentioned,
“While we promote active aging, we should also continue to encourage
fertility since this is the fundamental problem. In the long term, people will
react to aging and create more economic and social value out of them.
We should educate people of active aging and healthy living when they
are young and not when they are already 60 then they realized”


Rolf’s Summary
  • Reduce outflow of older cohort by enhancing and exploit longevity
  • Promote healthy living to reduce healthcare cost and enhance
    productivity
  • Retirement age needs to change with Time
  • Need for new jobs for aging population
  • Healthy Living Message – The young need it too
  • To continue promotion of fertility campaign together with good healthcare
    policy
  • Change your lifestyle to live a long, healthy and productive life
  • Successful ageing means personal responsibility
  • Look at opportunities that Longevity can bring
  • Use positive language for the elderly
  • All people matters – old people are not second class citizens

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5 thoughts on “Aging Population – What it Means to Us!

  1. it can be extremely difficult to knuckle some senses into the young that the aged folks around them are not pathetic and written off souls… not until one fine day they reach that old band age too.

    1. Hi Money Honey,

      Thanks for stoping by.

      Everyone is once young and everyone will be old eventually. We must have mutual respect. Guess it's not so easy for the young to realize the value of old, since they had not gone through that stage yet. But I am sure mindset will change overtime.

      Rolf.

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