Understanding Ageing in Place in Singapore: Challenges and Solutions

Ageing In Place

Aging in place means exactly as the phrase implies. It describes someone who prefers to stay in one place (of their choice) as they get older. Aging in place happens at a stage in an older adult’s life when they still have access to what they need while keeping a good standard of living.

Moreover, aging in place is a voluntary decision by a person to stay in their own home to continue independent living, institutions for elderly residents, or other housing options. This means that to age in place, a person must have planned how they intend to support themselves as they grow older.

So when you talk about ageing in place, you’re not adapting to a growing preference in hopes of fixing your problems. You can only handle these problems if you have prepared for them while still capable. These problems may include health care, personal care and well-being, financial resources, safety concerns, and more.

This article aims to help those searching about ageing in place Singapore or elderly residents who want to know the preferred living arrangements of the rapidly ageing population in the country.

Aging in Place – The Importance

To age in place means to support older people in ensuring they can reside where they choose to without sacrificing their quality of life. But ageing in place is not something everybody can choose to do, especially if you did not plan for it beforehand.

To date, many elderly individuals choose ageing in place in their own homes. These residents are either living on their own to maintain independence or with their spouses. The statistics will grow in the coming years as it is estimated that 1 in 5 Singaporeans will be 60 by 2025.

Many Singaporeans who adapted to the ageing in place setup experience difficulties with their everyday lives, health care, and routines. Most seniors also experience a decline.

The more older people there are in Singapore, the faster the government must ensure their welfare as they age in place. Moreso, concerned parties, including family members, must remind the country’s elderly residents to prepare for their future while they’re still capable.

A Look Into the Common Ageing Issues

Everybody goes through changes and transformations at each step into old age. You are bound to experience changes despite your efforts to stay healthy inside and out.

Therefore, you must prepare for these changes. And not everything would be bad. Some changes you’d experience can be beneficial, such as learning to become more tolerant and patient with circumstances, others, and yourself. Understand that as you get nearer to your golden years, you will experience irreversible changes in your mind and body.

The most common of these changes an older person will experience in the near future include the following:

  • Becoming less flexible
  • Weaker agility and mobility
  • Hear loss
  • Getting fragile due to lack of balance and bones becoming fragile
  • Reduced mental and physical endurance
  • Weaker stamina due to reduced muscle mass
  • Poorer vision

You are bound to experience these changes; it’s just a matter of when. Some would have undergone many of these changes in their 40s or 50s, and most older people would get them all by age 60 and above.

Remembering these changes when planning for your or a family member’s future is important. This way, you can be more prepared and know how to handle the challenges when the changes eventually come. Planning ahead is essential in ensuring success when adapting to the ageing in place set up.

Take note that emotional, mental, and physical changes have big impacts on the everyday lives of older adults. These impacts are greatly seen in how seniors fare in their Activities of Daily Living or ADL, which include the following:

  • Appearing in social and community events with ease
  • Maintaining own home and backyard’s cleanliness
  • Sustaining one’s health by eating right and exercising
  • Driving safely
  • Riding public transportation with minimal difficulties
  • Being able to leave and return home without feeling agitated and having bursts of anxiety

Can You Plan to Age in Place Beforehand?

It’s difficult to plan for ageing in place. This is because you can never be too certain when you will experience changes until the moment they happen.

To be safe, consider the possible assistance you may require when you reach your old age. You have to think about what you need if you will age in place at home alone or with family members or live in HDB flats, existing flats, smaller flats, or elderly home care in Singapore.

You have to think about everything that could happen, even when you are still living a comfortable life. You may have all your spouse’s help now, making your life comfortable. But what if your wife died after you’ve become older and weaker?

Aging in place varies for each individual depending on their health and the circumstances they’re in. Many older people would live under filial piety as long as they live. But some elderly individuals will age in place with nothing and no one to depend on but themselves and how they’ve prepared for their future.

To begin planning, list your own or your spouse’s illnesses. While you still can, talk to a health professional about how challenging it would be to care for your spouse or yourself when the condition worsens as you both age.

Planning also applies to caregivers of elderly people. You must inquire about their ideal living arrangement and how you can get immediate assistance if they choose to age in place.

What Support Do Seniors Aging in Place Require?

Nearly any kind of assistance is available at home, but some will require fees. You can get more information about the help available for seniors at institutional care nearest you, community partners, social services, or any local agencies on ageing.

What kinds of support would you need when you become part of the elderly residents in your area?

Health care

This includes reminders when to take your pills, or arranging for nursing care or medical care after being discharged from a hospital. You can also request assistance by asking your doctor about details you may have forgotten.

Financial management

Bills, insurance, housing rent or other services can be confusing for many seniors. You can ask for help managing money, paying bills, and getting your finances sorted out without getting scammed.

As early as possible, you have to designate someone who will grant permission regarding money matters, especially when you are at the point in your life where you’re finding it too difficult to remember details.

Eating right and on time

You must also plan how you will eat healthy foods and ensure you have access to food in your daily life once you become an elderly individual. You can arrange to attend community events to join other elderly residents in eating and celebrating life. Other times, you can visit your extended family or friends to share your daily life while having companions as you eat.

When you’ve gotten to a point when it’s difficult to come out of your home, you can arrange for food delivery services to supply you with daily nourishment. You can also request friends or family support to bring you healthy dishes once in a while.

Household chores

You can arrange for drycleaners to pick up and deliver your laundry. And you can hire help to maintain your house’s cleanliness a couple of times each week.

Personal care

For daily life grooming and personal care, you can hire help or ask a family member to come over to help you bathe or get dressed whenever you find these tasks hard to do.

The Most Typical Concerns When Elderly Adults Resort to Aging in Place

Many elderly individuals resort to staying at their existing homes, HDB flats, and other housing services of their choice to continue living their lives as usual with minimal change. However, you will still encounter challenges in your daily life regarding getting around and safety issues.

Here are some suggestions on how to prepare or get help in dealing with these possible concerns as you age:

Getting help during the day

If you live with a spouse or a family member who can’t be with you during the day, you can set up day care for elderly people to pick you up and bring you home later when you already have a companion. Suppose you have a stay-in caregiver for the elderly who can’t be with you for a day or two. In that case, you can check into institutions offering elder care services Singapore or temporary respite care.

Housing modifications

Elderly people need to make certain modifications at home to make living safer and easier. These changes include adding insulation, replacing usual flooring with a nonskid type, and installing handlebars, ramps, and hot showers or tubs. If you can’t afford them, you can check with a local development board in your community and other housing resources to inquire about the available financing option to help you pay for what you need.

Safety issues

If your community often experiences violence or other unrest, or you are prone to getting sick but live alone, you can request your community to send help. Your community can equip you with an emergency alert system you can push to alert designated personnel depending on the type of help you require.

Finding friends and things to do

Many elderly individuals are bound to feel lonely or bored when they stay in the same place most of the time. Despite your emotional attachment to your housing of choice, you are still part of civil society and have a strong sense of wanting to be with other people and engage in fun activities.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re at your home, a nursing home, or other housing options; you need to see other people and go out at times. You need to check the activities happening in your community targeted at elderly people. You may also want to ask your family and other elderly friends to gather around occasionally to bond and simply talk about life.

Navigating your home and community

This will likely happen when you reach the point in your elderly life when you already have trouble walking. You can hire an aide to help you go to nearby places, or you can also choose to ride a scooter or an electric wheelchair. You can ask your health care provider if these vehicles are covered. More importantly, always talk to the leaders of your community, so you would know what you can do, help out with, or be a part of.

Your Life, Your Choice

At the end of the day, ageing in place is a choice; your choice. Adapting to the lifestyle means deciding on the following:

  • What do you want to do in cases of financial decisions, housing transitions, sicknesses, and other major life events
  • What kinds of assistance do you need
  • Your health care choices
  • How do you want your home to be modified
  • How do you want to spend the rest of your elderly years

Final Thoughts

Aging in place is a decision typically made by responsible older persons who want to ensure the quality of their lives in the future. They want to take care of themselves and know what to do when they get older and weaker without becoming a burden to their families and community.

If you are still a couple of years before retirement age, take this chance to learn about your options. You can call, send out e mail, and check various resources that could address the diverse needs of elderly individuals. In short, plan for your future and make it something beautiful to look forward to in the coming years.

If you live in Singapore, you can also inquire about the processes involved and other resources you can tap into with the help of RC Caregivers. We specialize in senior care and in ensuring our elderly residents are informed about the options they have and guiding them toward making the right ones.

Joshua is the founder of RC Caregivers. Having been the primary caregiver of his father, he has been undertaking ways to provide affordable and quality care, not just to his father, but to all elderly in Singapore. He has founded multiple care companies, such as Red Crowns Senior Living, and has been featured in Straits Times, Zaobao and Money 93FM. He has also been lauded by DBS, with the company being the recipient of the DBS foundation grant.
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