Singapore’s population has gone from youthful to ageing to aged in the short span since the country’s independence in 1965. By 2030 – barely a decade away – some 25 per cent of the population here will be aged 65 and above. The silver wave looks more like a tsunami that will have wide implications for not just the economy but for society in general. The Government has already started to tackle infrastructural issues, having recently launched new housing developments such as the Yew Tee Integrated Development for seniors, and plans to build seven nursing homes over the next two years. These moves are obviously welcome, but more challenges lie ahead.
Yew Tee is only the third integrated development to date and offers just 68 flexi flats to be completed in 2027. The new nursing homes will add to the current 16,221 nursing home beds, but more are likely to be needed. Singaporeans have too long depended on cheaper migrant labour and on women to provide care for the elderly at home. These are not sustainable solutions in the long run. The women who carry a disproportionate caregiving load also face income loss and higher expenditure which will, in turn, negatively impact their own retirement planning.