On 11 October, 55 representatives from the government, corporate and non-profit sectors together with a group of senior citizens, gathered at Scape to deliberate the answers to one question: How can our seniors live more happily in the community?

For everyone in the room, the inaugural session of Seniors Colabs marked the start of a new collaborative journey, with participants expected to meet regularly over a six-month period to share knowledge, build insights and find practical ways to help seniors age well. As the third and final run of a three-part Colabs series, Seniors Colabs brings people with a common desire to tackle issues around growing old in Singapore.    

Ms Radha Basu, Director of Research and Advocacy at Lien Foundation, kicked off the session with an overview of the senior care landscape. She underscored that while Singaporeans were ageing from a position of strength in terms of health and financial outcomes; higher life expectancies and declining fertility rates will mean less caregivers for a fast-ageing population. Given this, families will have to depend increasingly on the community for support and care in the long-run.

Other insights shared include the cost of long-term care for this demographic; as well as efforts by civil society, the private sector and government to help tackle these challenges.    

Colabs is a philanthropic initiative by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and the Community Foundation of Singapore. It drives collaboration by bringing together the public, private and social sectors to tackle complex social issues. It enables philanthropists, businesses, non-profits and sector experts to collectively build insights and co-create solutions for lasting change.

After a networking tea break, participants were plunged into the world of struggling seniors with three poignant soliloquys by stage artistes portraying elderly personas. Table discussions followed. Some conversations generated more questions, as many discussed existing societal mindsets and policies.

While others took a more philosophical view, most wanted to talk about practical concerns. Participants were mostly concerned about issues surrounding social support, caregiving, healthcare, finance and mobility. “Empathy alone does not pay the bills,” summed up a Colabs participant from a non-profit organisation.

The session ended with a call for everyone in the room to envision their own reality of a thriving community of seniors in Singapore for the future.

Seniors Colabs session 2 will take place on 22 November 2018. If you wish to express interest to be part of Colabs, visit here or write to colabs@cf.org.sg.