Greying Population

by Patrick Liew on November 16, 2011

For a change, we should address the challenge of a greying population from a bottom-up perspective.

First, we need to look at how to enable the elderly and the soon-to-be elderly not only to age gracefully but to also commit themselves to a meaningful and productive life. Without their will to live and the spirit to contribute to society, any national policy and programme will amount to nothing.

For example, we need to step up our educational programmes to help them enhance their financial literacy, improve their knowledge of preventive and anti-aging medicine, learn the benefits of proven techniques in wellness and positive psychology.

While we may be able to legislate the need to maintain our parents, we cannot regulate love, care and concern for them. That’s why, we need to continue to reinforce the Asian family and community culture for respecting and looking after the elderly. It will bode well for us to remember that we too will grow old and will expect the next generation to do the same for us.

To ensure employment and employability of senior citizens – for both professional and personal pursuits – I suspect we need a change of attitude about the elderly on every level of society. We have to convince employers that the elderly can be groomed to take on different and even bigger responsibility for a wider range of assignments.

More likely than not, with the increase in lifespan, we will have to help the elderly to work and contribute to their CPF accounts for a longer period of time.

Let’s take a leaf from Finland. According to Professor Anne-Marie Guillemard, “Finland encouraged increased training of ageing workers and changes to the work environment to adapt to their needs – both of which make older employees more efficient and motivated.”

Apparently, the number of Finns aged between 55 to 64 in the workforce increased from 42% in 2000 to 56% in 2009.

“That activist labour policy has been embraced by many companies where older Finnish workers are now actively valued for the experience they have.”

In our quest for economic development, I trust we will not do so at the cost of weakening extended family relationships and compromising our responsibility to the ageing population.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

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Life is FUNtastic!




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