East Coast GRC to build up network of support for seniors

SINGAPORE – Seniors in East Coast constituency can look forward to better amenities and a network of caregivers and volunteers they can depend on, under a plan to make the constituency a good place for ageing in.

The East Coast Silver Blueprint, launched on Sunday (Sept 13), envisions a town in which all seniors, even if they live alone, will lead active lives with friends in the community and will be looked after by neighbours around them.

For a start, a survey will be conducted to better understand the needs of seniors who live in the constituency.

At the same time, town audits will be carried out to look at physical improvements needed to make the area safer and more accessible for seniors.

Unveiling the blueprint on Sunday over video conferencing, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is an MP and grassroots adviser of East Coast GRC, urged residents of the constituency to pitch in in their own ways.

He added that this was the spirit behind the Singapore Together movement, which he and his team of fourth-generation political leaders started last year to give regular citizens a bigger say in policymaking.

“Everyone of us can make a difference, and coming together, we can make a bigger difference,” he said.

“Every one of us contribute something, whether within a family, within our neighbourhood, or the broader community, and by bringing all of this together, organising this well with a good plan and some shared target, I think we can achieve a lot more.”

In East Coast, where four in 10 of the 190,000 residents are aged 50 and above, this will take the form of neighbours looking out for one another as they age.

Elaborating on the blueprint, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Maliki Osman, Minister of State Tan Kiat How, Ms Jessica Tan and Ms Cheryl Chan – the other East Coast GRC MPs – spoke about various programmes which the constituency will introduce.

To build up a network of volunteers, grassroots organisations there will recruit and train residents who want to befriend and check in on elderly folk in need of help.

The constituency will also set up a Caregiver Support Network so that those caring for their aged parents can lean on and learn from each other and also get connected to resources as well as healthcare and social services.

With dementia becoming a growing concern as the population grows older, there are also plans to make East Coast a dementia-friendly town, with go-to points where lost and wandering people with dementia can be taken to by members of the public.

Home audits will also be conducted to look at what can be done to enhance the quality of life of those with dementia.

Mr Heng said it was important to take a preventive approach and to help people stay active and healthy as they age, so that they do not grow frail.

At the national level, the National Research Foundation has added health and human potential as another area of focus, and will be doing research on how babies develop, how children and adults learn, as well as how seniors can keep their minds active and stave off dementia, said Mr Heng who is chairman of the foundation.

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