Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister Of State For Health, At The Official Opening Ceremony Of 50plus 2017, On Saturday, 25th March 2017, 1010hrs

Mdm Chua Foo Yong, Chairman, Council for Third Age,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

大家早上好!非常高兴今天能出席“50佳– 积极学习,享受乐龄” 的开幕典礼。

首先,诚心祝贺活跃乐龄理事会成立十周年。

卫生部积极推广幸福老龄化行动计划旗下的活跃乐龄活动,活跃乐龄理事会是我们的主要伙伴之一。

我相信,活到老,学到老,做义工更是不限年龄

学习和做义工可以让我们晚年活得更充实、精彩、富有意义。 何乐而不为呢?

在座的各位今天出席50佳,可以说是已经踏出了迈向活跃乐龄的第一步。

希望你们踊跃报名现场的活跃乐龄项目!

 

INTRODUCTION

1.            Good morning. I am happy to join you this morning for the official opening of the 50plus 2017 - Learn Actively, Live Happily. First of all, congratulations to Council for Third Age, C3A, on your 10th anniversary. Over the last decade, C3A has done well in promoting active ageing through many of your programmes.

 

ACTIVE AGEING THROUGH LIFELONG LEARNING

2.            In particular, C3A has been a passionate champion of lifelong learning. There is no age limit to learning. As individuals, growing older can be a continuous journey of growth, development and discovery, if we keep learning new things. It is even more fun to learn together with friends. [1]Research also suggests that lifelong learning has health benefits too, by helping to delay cognitive decline.

 

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR SENIORS – NATIONAL SILVER ACADEMY

3.            Under the Action Plan for Successful Ageing, MOH has worked with MOE to establish the National Silver Academy, a programme administered by C3A.  The National Silver Academy or NSA, is a network of post-secondary education institutions (PSEIs) and community-based organisations that offer a variety of learning opportunities for seniors. Courses under the NSA are subsidised by the government and seniors can also use their SkillsFuture Credit to pay for most of these courses.  I encourage seniors here today to check out the courses available at the NSA booths at the exhibition area outside or explore the hundreds of courses featured on the NSA website.

4.            Since the NSA was launched in June 2016, it now offers over 700 courses. Since last year, more than 5,500 seniors have signed up for the courses. Many of the NSA partners are also participating in this 50plus event. We will continue to work with these partners to provide more variety and choices for seniors.

5.            The learning opportunities offered by the NSA have brought about other positive outcomes. For instance, C3A’s Intergenerational Learning Programme allows seniors to engage and interact with younger classmates, which helps them stay connected to society, while younger students develop better understanding and empathy for the seniors amongst them.  Mr Chang Swee Wah, 62, is a retired civil engineer who signed up for the Intergenerational Learning Programme three years ago. Through courses such as terrarium-making and video production, he not only shared his wealth of experiences and knowledge with his younger course-mates, he also picked up many new skills from them, including making video stories. He has since produced several short films and participated in seven competitions, such as “My Singapore Story Microfilm Competition” and the “180 Short Film Competition”.

 

VOLUNTEERISM – A MEANINGFUL WAY TO AGE WELL

6.            Besides learning, seniors can also engage in meaningful volunteer work and contribute back to society. A targeted $40m Silver Volunteer Fund has been set up to promote senior volunteerism. For instance, the Fund has supported the Community Befriending Programme, where senior befrienders are paired with needy seniors living in their neighbourhood. The befrienders will visit them and help them with day to day matters, such as buying meals for them or remind them to take their medication. These social networks formed can help seniors to keep a look out for each other and prevent social isolation.  We started the programme with three constituencies in 2014 and to date, we have over 350 senior volunteers serving 580 vulnerable seniors in 33 constituencies.

7.            Sixty-eight year-old Mr Ow Tuck Chow, started volunteering eight months ago as a senior volunteer befriender. Equipped with his walking stick, he visits five befriendees regularly and has developed friendships with them. By simple acts such as chatting with these seniors and showing them care, Mr Ow feels that he has made an impact on them and in turn, his life has transformed positively.

8.            I am happy to see many volunteer host organisations participating in this 50plus event. Seniors may approach them to find out more of the various volunteer opportunities available. I hope to see more organisations step forward and offer seniors opportunities to volunteer and contribute.   

 

Conclusion

9.            I am heartened that C3A has weaved in different components in this 50plus event to reach out to seniors of diverse needs and preferences. Topics in the forum range from gerontology and the art of ageing to specialised topics such as health & wellness, finance, IT or life skills. For others who prefer more hands-on learning, there are bite-sized teaser classes held here, while those who want to explore and sign up for learning courses and volunteer opportunities can visit the partners’ booths.  All these programmes have been carefully crafted in the effort to help our seniors embark on their active ageing journey.

10.         The senior learning and volunteerism initiatives are a whole-of-society effort. National-level initiatives will only be fruitful and successful with the support of the education institutions, statutory boards, community organisations, industry players, corporate partners and families of the seniors.

11.         More importantly, seniors themselves must take the first step forward. I applaud all seniors here today for taking that first step. I encourage you to share this exciting journey with your friends and relatives to join you and explore this new adventure in your silver years! I would also like to thank all the partners here for your contribution and support in working towards this common mission to help seniors age well. Thank you.

 

 

 

[1] Brain Training Exercises May Delay Onset of Dementia, Study Says - Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2016, Science Bulletin, Health & Medicine, 25 July 2016, http://sciencebulletin.org/archives/3594.html

 

 

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