While discussions on ageing previously centred on dependency ratios andhealthcare infrastructure, there has been a growing attention to the otheraspects of growing old, such as its social and emotional dimensions. Therehas also been a move in recent years to rethink the construct of ageing andframe it in a more positive way.In this paper we document some of the results derived from the Perceptionand Attitudes towards Ageing and Seniors (PATAS) survey completed in early2014. These results delve into respondents’ beliefs about achievingsuccessful ageing — what it constitutes how it can be achieved andrespondents’ appraisal of their preparation to age successfully. We alsodocument respondents’ experience of age in terms of quality of life,integration within the community and their experience and attitudes towardsageism. Perceptions about lifelong learning and employability, especially whatmotivates older persons to consider such pursuits, are also reported.The results from the survey showed that there is a high level of consensus onwhat senior respondents believed constituted successful ageing. Being happy, healthy, physically active, financially independent, and having closefriendships were very highly endorsed. Most respondents believed that familysupport, information about what to expect as one ages, and information onknow how to take care of their health and ensure sufficient savings would helpthem to age successfully.In terms of their experience of ageing, most respondents were optimistic.Eight in 10 respondents felt confident that their needs would be taken care ofas they aged. They also enjoyed a good quality of life with nearly 70%indicating that they often looked forward to each day; and rarely or neverhaving felt that things were out of control in their lives. Most seniors reportedthat they had people in their social network who could provide them with arange of assistance. Most of their social activities tended to be with theirfamilies, with considerably less involvement in community activities.Respondents were generally positive that those who were older were wellrespected in society and they seldom experienced prejudice or discriminationbecause of their age.Respondents were motivated to engage in lifelong learning so that they couldbetter manage everyday life and keep up with changes. Seniors were alsomotivated to learn so they could understand themselves and others better.While attitudes were generally positive about the benefits of lifelong learning,there was comparatively less awareness and participation in lifelong learningprogrammes.There was much consensus among seniors that working after retirement waspositive. Around 90% of respondents agreed that continued employmentwould help them stay financially independent, socially connected, makefriendships, give them a sense of self-worth and enable an active andproductive life. Voluntary work was viewed by about eight out of 10respondents as a good way to stay socially connected, and lead a meaningfullife. However, less than half of the respondents reported that they wouldconsider volunteering in the next few years.Perhaps the one key highlight from this study is how positive surveyrespondents are about growing old. In terms of public policy, the challengesare now focused on how to actively engage older Singaporeans so that thethird age can be reconstructed to reflect their tremendous potential forinvolvement in the community. We make several recommendations for futureprogrammes based on results from the survey.
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MATHEWS, Mathew and STRAUGHAN, Paulin Tay, "Results from the perception and attitudes towards ageing and seniors survey (2013/2014)" (2014). Research Collection School of Social Sciences. Paper 2220.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/soss_research/2220
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