“Behind the silver surge”

Radha Basu, senior journalist.

Plenary speaker at the Singapore Patient Conference in October 2015 at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), Singapore, was senior journalist Radha Basu, who writes on ageing, migration and social issues. She shared that living longer can also mean living alone – in year 2000, there were only 15,000 elderly who lived alone. By 2010, there were 35,000 and the figure “will exceed 80,000 in less than two decades”.

She also shared about the rise of the “old-old”. Currently, there are 41,000 persons aged 85 years and above, up from 14,000 in 2005. Other demographics Basu shared included the number of elderly with mobility problems, like those who use a wheelchair. The number doubled to 36,000 between 2000 and 2010, she shared.

In her talk, she talked about the differences that exist in childcare vs eldercare, and one area having more places than the other. Despite an ageing population, there is still need for more daycare places to ease caregiving pressures.

Basu also touched on caregiving. The National Health Survey data in 2011 showed that there were an estimated 210,000 caregivers at the time. She further highlighted a survey on informal caregiving where around 1,200 caregivers were interviewed. She shared some startling findings:

• About half the caregivers were employed but still spent 38 hours per week on caregiving chores – that is almost like having a second job.

• Only half employed a domestic worker to help look after the older person in need of care.



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