July 2, 2011

SINGAPORE: Don't let expertise of elderly go to waste

SINGAPORE / TODAY / Voices / July 2, 2011

Letter from Jeffrey Law Lee Beng 

I READ Jolly Wee's letter, "Elderly in menial jobs is not active ageing" (June 30) with mixed feelings.

To some older people, working as cleaners, pump attendants and food outlet helpers may seem lowly, but at least they are gainfully employed which they consider important to their dignity. If possible, they try not to depend on handouts.

However, I have known some retirees who have acquired much experience and talent over the years now working as taxi drivers and security guards. They are not really embracing active ageing but are being financially independent.

As these highly educated and knowledgeable people are an asset to the corporate world, it would be beneficial to tap their skills and expertise, and one good way is to set up social enterprises vying for consultancy, training and business projects at competitive rates.

If government agencies and social institutions are supportive of such self-help enterprises, the elderly will be kept healthy and productive beyond the usual retirement age.

Copyright ©2011 MediaCorp Press Ltd

SINGAPORE / Today / Voices / June 30, 2011

Letter from Jolly Wee

I share the views of Dr Alexandre Kalache, a former head of ageing programmes at the World Health Organization, that older people working long hours in menial jobs is not active ageing and that Government handouts for the elderly poor can also address the ageing issues.

We often see our seniors as cleaners, bending over to clean public toilets, standing for long periods of time as pump attendants at petrol kiosks and as food court helpers walking about so many times to clear and carry away food trays from the tables.

Such scenes should not be allowed to become a way of life for our elderly poor in their sunset years, particularly in a country that can afford to do more to make life a little easier for them.

We will be able to appreciate these jobs better only when we try them out. A young person should multiply the physical demands of the job by two or three times to feel the toll it takes on an old body.

Meanwhile, it is not uncommon to hear those old folk say that they want to work past 60 years or so.

They may not be speaking from their hearts, so as not to embarrass their children, who may be in financial difficulty themselves, and are not financially able to give their old parents an easier life.

On handouts, I believe more can be given by our Government and private establishments so that our elderly poor need not have to work on a regular basis or at all, if they are in poor health or physically less able.

A clutch mentality would not be created if the handouts are for the elderly poor who cannot be economically active any more.

The handouts need not be all cash. Free public transport, medical examination and supplies, and probably more generous senior citizen discounts for the poor, for food items.

Copyright ©2011 MediaCorp Press Ltd
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