In our society today, over-reliance on domestic help is evident, and it is a common sight to see elderly persons being accompanied by their helpers along the streets of Singapore. With our ageing population set to explode within the next 10-15 years, this over-dependence will only lead to a more problematic situation, to the point that it is likely to become a societal problem.
Perhaps the ease of hiring domestic help in Singapore has spoilt us in a way that we can hire someone to help us with our everyday activities at a fairly affordable cost. In countries where there are few options of hiring domestic help, seniors have to carry out their day-to-day activities on their own and only seek help from the people around them when they are unable to do so. This, coupled with the fact that most do not stay with their families, forces them to be more independent and mobile. This may not necessarily be a bad thing actually - even simple tasks such as grocery shopping or just taking out the trash works out one's muscles, while on the flip side, staying at home or sitting in a wheelchair and being pushed around results in muscle loss over time.
What we need to understand is that being able to do things on your own (no matter how simple) not only contributes to physical health, but also one's mental health, in knowing that there are things within your control and there is dignity derived from being able to do things on your own. As age catches up, our bodies may not be what they used to be; there will be things that we can do, and some things that we can't. Instead of just giving up and letting someone else step in to handle everything, the focus should be on the things that we can do, and for those that we can't, assistance should of course be provided. Family members also play an important role in creating an environment which encourages their loved ones and by avoiding negative stereotypes, for example, resorting to feeding their elderly loved one just because of a fear that they will "make a mess".
Treat our loved ones with the respect and dignity that they deserve, and encourage them to adopt a "do-what-you-can" attitude. This will go a long way in ensuring a life filled with dignity. After all, ageing is a process which we will all go through at some point in our lives; we might as well make it a pleasant one.