There are different ways to promote and maintain independence among elderly. Independence, in this context, does not refer to physical independence only but also financial independence. The benefits of remaining independent for the elderly are endless. Independence can make them lead a better quality of life in their senior years, better physical health and improve their mental well-being. As they become older, their health will deteriorate and it's understandable they may need to depend on help to perform their daily activities. However, they can still remain independent in other ways and to different extent. Read more to find out how the elderly can maintain their independence during their senior years.
In recent years, there have been improvements in making the community an inclusive place. For wheelchair users, it is now more comfortable and convenient for them to travel on public transport as all new registered public buses now (since 2006) are wheelchair accessible. Most of the bus stops in SG are also designed to be barrier-free. Bus captains are also trained to provide care for people with disabilities. For example, they are trained to be more careful when communicating with wheelchair users so as to not make them feel guilty on taking a longer time to board as compared to other commuters.
In MRT stations, the facilities are barrier-free to make it easier for the elderly and PWDs to travel around the situation. There are also tactile markings on the floor in MRT stations to provide guidance for the visually impaired. Other features include wheelchair-accessible toilets, ramps and additional lifts with a barrier-free route.
Furthermore, a noticeable change at traffic lights and pedestrian crossings is the implementation of the Green Man Plus (GMP) scheme which grants the elderly and pedestrians with disabilities more time, to cross the road comfortably and at their own pace.
In terms of financial support for transportation, there is a special concession card for PWDs. It provides concessionary rates for them when they travel on public transportation. There are also more benefits that they can get through this card such as unlimited travel on bus services in SG. For more information, please click here.
Besides buses, there are other financial schemes to support PWDs if they need to travel using other means such as vehicles or taxis. The Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS) is meant for persons with permanent disabilities and have medical certificates to prove that they are unable to travel on public transport. Therefore, they need to rely on travelling on taxis to go to school or work. For more information click here. Alternatively, there is also a VWO Transport Subsidy Scheme (VWOTS) which provides dedicated transport to access special care centres for persons with disabilities. Read more of this scheme here.
There are grants and subsidies to provide aid for elderly such as Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) and Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE). Both these grants encourage the elderly to continue staying independent in their own home, with assistive devices and products to prevent falls. They will help to bear most of the cost of these products as long as the conditions fit. There are more financial schemes for the elderly and also for caregivers. You can read more on a separate post here.
The retirement age in Singapore has been raised to three years from 62 to 65 by about 2030. Re-employment age has also been raised to 70. The culture of working even in your senior years is becoming more noticeable recently as more seniors are working beyond retirement age. The purpose of working may differ for each individual - some may work for income while others may work to remain mentally and physically active.
Nonetheless, the reason why there are more seniors remaining at work is due to Singapore’s demographics as an aging population. Over time, their proportion of seniors will increase and there will be a need for them to continue working to contribute to society and to support themselves. These changes in the policies will benefit the older workers to remain at work and to help them be more financially independent in their senior years. Being able to continue working also helps them to be more active and productive.