SPEECH BY MR GAN KIM YONG, MINISTER FOR HEALTH, AT LIONS BEFRIENDERS CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT, AT SINGAPORE ISLAND COUNTRY CLUB,
1. A very good evening to all. Thank you for inviting me to this charity dinner. Sorry I was not able to join you for golf. I hope you had a great game. Even as you have fun, you have not forgotten to do good by raising funds for charity. I want to thank you for your generosity.
2. Lions Befrienders has done good work in the community for the past 24 years. Over the next decade, your contributions will be even more important. The number of seniors is expected to double to almost one million by 2030 – of which more than 80,000 are projected to be living alone. This is about twice the number of seniors who live alone today.
Social Isolation Affects Seniors’ Physical and Mental Health
3. These seniors are at higher risk of social isolation, which can affect both their physical and mental health. Prolonged social isolation can lead to depression and aggravate mental health conditions like dementia. Seniors also tend to be less motivated to take care of their health when they feel lonely and isolated, and may skip their medication, resulting in worsening health.
4. Helping our seniors maintain regular social contact is crucial to pre-empt isolation. To do so, we need a combination of appropriate health and psycho-social interventions and a supportive community. This requires a whole-of-society effort. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village too, to help our seniors enjoy their golden years and care for the vulnerable among us.
Whole of Society Effort Required
5. MOH has been strengthening our community care networks to meet the needs of a growing senior population. The Community Networks for Seniors (CNS) has been expanded nation-wide to bring together different stakeholders to promote active ageing, extend befriending services and to link up health and social support for seniors who need it.
6. We are leveraging our network of about 3,000 Silver Generation (SG) Ambassadors to reach out to seniors at home. These ambassadors will assess the seniors’ health status when they visit them and encourage them to participate in the preventive health and active ageing programmes in their neighbourhoods. Beginning with the Pioneers in 2014, our SG Ambassadors have engaged about 450,000 seniors to-date. They will be extending outreach in future to engage Merdeka Generation seniors too.
On the community’s part, we need more volunteers and community partners like Lions Befrienders to step forward to support vulnerable seniors in our midst.
A Caring Society Defines Our Culture
7. Singaporeans have big hearts and are willing to contribute to society. This spirit of giving can go a long way towards shaping a culture of care. Every contribution counts towards improving the overall quality of life of our seniors.
8. I would like to thank Lions Befrienders again for organising this charity event. Together with our partners, I believe we can co-create a liveable, vibrant and compassionate nation for all ages. Thank you.
Source: MINISTRY OF HEALTH (MOH)