A major part of the Singapore government’s silver strategy is “ageing-in-place” – a policy that encourages ageing seniors to stay in their homes and communities. So what is “ageing-in-place”? Wikipedia defines it as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability”. At a policy level, it means that senior will stay at home and in their communities as long as they can — and therefore not place additional burdens on the limited resources in institutional senior care. At the individual level, ageing in place is preferred to institutional living (nursing home, for example) because ageing-in-place typically offers greater quality of life as long as the individual can strive to live independently and safely at home.
There are 5 things you need to consider to make ageing-in-place work for you.
- The most important thing is your home. Is it ready to meet your future needs as you grow older and as your physical abilities change? The first thing to do is to make sure you complete a safety check of your home. Top of mind is fall prevention — slips and falls can be life-changing for seniors because it may rob you of your precious mobility and independence. Fortunately, for those who live in HDBs, there is a program called Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) that provide up to 90% subsidy to make your HDB home senior safe and friendly. Click her for more information on eligibility and subsidy.
- Another key aspect of ageing at home is transportation. If you are driving today, there is a good chance that at some point you may not be able to or your may not want to drive. In Singapore, access to public transportation is quite ubiquitous whether it is public buses or MRT trains and proximity to one or the other is typically not an issue if you live in a HDB. If you live in private a condo or house, then your nearest bus stop or MRT station matters. Fortunately, technology and innovation like GRAB (www.grab.com/sg) can provide you with on-demand car sharing alternative as well.
- The reason you want to age at home is to stay close to your family and friends. If you have friends and relatives that lives nearby, it makes all the difference in the world. Furthermore, most HDB dwellers are also near Community Centres(CC) that are managed by People’s Association, a statutory board organization that is tasked with offering a wide range of programmes to cater to Singaporeans of all ages. If you want to remain active in your community, this is a great place to start – if you have never done so, visit your nearest CC! (www.pa.gov.sg)
- Apart from just physical contacts, ensure that you also stay digitally connected to your friends and family at large. If you are not familiar with social media, take a course and get to learn about Facebook, Whatsapp, Email and other ways to stay in touch. Digital connections not only provides you with a virtual network of relationships, but also the opportunity to keep abreast with what’s happening. That is important because one big negative of ageing-in-place is isolation — and being active online helps.
- To ensure you are healthy, you will also need to consider an exercise/physical routine like walking, swimming or gym time. Ageing at home can quickly turn into hibernating at home, if you are not careful. Arrange to meet up with friends for walks in the park or just biking around. Whatever you do, ageing at home cannot mean accepting a sedentary lifestyle as the new normal.