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Seniors’ tech adoption rate shows highest percentage increase

Computer users by age group – the highest increase in the last three years reported for seniors aged 50 years and above.

Have you noticed that more seniors around us are using a smartphone, computer or accessing the Internet? This is an observation made by IDA’s Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households 2014 (Survey). The Survey showed that in 2014, about 74 percent of Singapore residents used the computer in the last three months, with highest increase in the last three years reported for seniors aged 50 years and above.

Between 2012 and 2014, there was a significant increase of 14 and 11 percentage-points in computer usage by seniors aged 50 to 59 and 60 & above respectively. This brought the total percentage of computer usage among seniors to 63 percent for those aged 50 to 59 years and 27 percent for those aged 60 years & above respectively in 2014.

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“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.

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Recognising dementia symptoms & raising awareness

Last month (October 10) was World Mental Health Day. In Singapore, the first National Mental Health Week to raise awareness of mental illness and to reduce the stigma around it began in 1987.

Mental disorders can be a complex combination of both genetic and environmental or lifestyle factors. Early diagnosis and access to treatment are critical to managing the disorders. In terms of our awareness of mental illness, a recent survey showed that at least five in 10 people were able to identify the symptoms of dementia (66.3 percent), alcohol abuse (57.1 percent) and depression (55.2 percent).

The Mental Health Literacy study conducted between March 2014 and March 2015 by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) asked people about their perceptions of five common mental disorders. Besides the illnesses mentioned above, fewer people were able to identify symptoms associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (28.7 percent) and schizophrenia (11.5 percent).

While it is reassuring to know that two out of three of the 3,006 adults who participated in the IMH study were able to identify dementia occurrence, the recognition of symptoms does not necessarily imply that people understand the sickness.

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Growing the capabilities in the community

Guest-of-honour Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Dr Amy Khor with the Social & Health Manpower Development Programme-ILTC award recipients.

With more and more seniors wanting to live and age well at home, to make this a reality for them, a possible answer is through upgrading the skills in the community so those in the sector can delivery even better quality care. Shared Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health, “With the growth in the community care services, we need close to 11,000 more staff in 2020 as compared to 2012 across all levels to augment the existing manpower pool. Community care is a source of good jobs for Singaporeans.”

Coming off a Senior Care Job Fair @ South West which took place in July and attracted more than 900 job applications, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) organised the third Intermediate and Long-Term Care (ILTC) Manpower Development Awards Ceremony in late August. A total of 91 awards were given, an increase from last year. The study awards fell into five categories: the Social & Development Manpower Development Programme for the Intermediate and Long-Term Care (SHMDP-ILTC), ILTC-Upgrading Programme (ILTC-UP), Mid-Term Scholarships for Social Workers, ILTC – Palliative Care Training Award and the Balaji Sadasivan Study Award.

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Flexible working key for older workers

Nine out of 10 (92 percent) senior business people in various industries in Singapore see flexible working critical for keeping older, experienced workers in the economy, according to the latest research by global workplace provider Regus.

The study also found that 96 percent of respondents confirm that flexible working is key to keeping carers and post-retirement workers in employment so that they can better juggle the demands of their family and their professional life. The study surveyed more than 586 people in January this year.

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