ENGLISH TRANSLATED VERSION
Mr Adrian Long, President, Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services
Mr Tan Thiam Lye, Honorary Secretary, Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services
Members of Parliament
Good morning. This place is special as there is a kindergarten on the left and the Sheng Hong Active Ageing Hub (AAH) on the right. The Honorary Secretary of Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services, Mr Tan Thiam Lye, shared with me that some parents would send their children to the kindergarten, and drop their aged parents off at the AAH at the same time. Such a design, which is quite common in Japan, promotes inter-generational bonding between our seniors and the young, which is good for their physical and mental health. I would like to express my thanks to you for coming up with this approach.
2. Amid the pandemic, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has been working hard to expand our overall hospital capacity to ensure that care for our patients is not compromised. In the next five to ten years, preventive care will be our top priority as we are all aware that prevention is better than cure.
3. I have met many doctors and always ask them how we keep dementia at bay. Research has shown that staying healthy slows the onset of dementia. We can stay healthy by exercising more and eating, sleeping and living well. It is also important for us to have social interactions with our relatives and friends. Interacting with children would also help to reduce the incidence of dementia as being in their company keeps your mind active and puts you in a good mood.
4. This also applies to preventing many other diseases. After speaking with many experts of different specialties, I am told that the key to preventing Parkinson’s, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes is to stay in good health and to keep an active mind.
5. It does not cost us much to stay and eat healthy. Sleeping more, cutting back on salt and sugar and making new friends does not cost us much. It also does not take money to be happy. So always be cheerful and do not worry. It is also better to be engaged in activities that keep you healthy rather than to spend a lot of money on medical treatment if you fall sick.
6. As our population ages, our healthcare system will continue to expand as we build more nursing homes, hospitals and polyclinics. We will continue to build more facilities like the Sheng Hong Active Ageing Hub, which promotes inter-generational bonding between the young and old.
7. Most importantly, we need to transform our neighbourhood into a community that promotes active ageing. Our HDB estates are carefully designed to include shared spaces for our elderly. For example, you would find that the void deck, coffee shop, market, supermarket, community centre and active ageing hub within your neighbourhood are all built within close proximity.
8. Since we have these existing shared spaces for seniors, we want to transform all HDB estates into AAHs. The most important factor is having the “software” and not hardware. When the “software” is in place, everyone can organise activities to take care of one another. Our seniors will then be able to lead healthier lives and avoid illnesses.
9. In the next five to ten years, we not only have to take care of seniors who are sick, but more importantly, to ensure that they do not fall sick and delay the onset of their illnesses.
10. MOH will continue to work with our community organisations who are valuable partners to help us in this effort. Thank you.