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Dr Eugene Fidelis Soh, CEO, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Dr Tang Kong Choong, Deputy CEO, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Prof Chin Jing Jih, Chairman Medical Board, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Dr Mark Chan, Chairman, Division of Integrative and Community Care, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Associate Professor Lim Wee Shiong, Director, Institute of Geriatrics & Active Ageing, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning. I’m happy to join you today to celebrate the International Day of Older Persons. I am one of the older persons now too, because I have turned 60 and I got my PAssion Silver concession card. So I speak for you and with you.

2. This IDOP, or International Day of Older Persons, observed in October everywhere in the world, not just in Singapore, recognises your contributions, contributions of seniors, and we want to celebrate ageing. Ageing is not a sad thing. Ageing should be celebrated. This year, the Institute of Geriatrics & Active Ageing and Tan Tock Seng Hospital have chosen the theme ‘Inspiring Growth through the Ages’.

Ageing well 

3. Because ageing can be a positive force. Even as we grow older, we can continue to learn new skills. We can pursue our passions, and contribute meaningfully to our families and our communities. Each phase of our life presents different opportunities for growth. This is one of the key thrusts of the refreshed 2023 Action Plan for Successful Ageing, which we launched earlier this year. Now, in this Action Plan, there is a pillar called ‘Contribution’, we want to help seniors continue learning and growing, contribute their knowledge and expertise to society.

4. Ladies and gentlemen, ageing well is not just about being physically healthy; it is important but it is not just about that. It also means staying mentally well, being happy, and therefore, to be socially connected. And for many of us, especially for myself, not just connected to our mental well-being, but how to be also spiritually connected. The World Health Organization defines ageing well is the ability to draw on our capacities for cognition, locomotion, psychological, sensory and vitality. It calls this concept “Intrinsic capacity” and it is truly going beyond physical health.

5. This is a very interesting concept – intrinsic capacity – and we must explore this further. Today’s event is designed along these domains, intrinsic capacity, not physical capacity only. You will see there are game booths, posters and a health talk that will share on how you can enhance your wellness across these domains. I hope everyone, to participate in these activities because we must know what it means to age well. Don’t just focus on medicine, don’t just focus on physical.

Enhancing programmes, leveraging research and innovation to tackle ageing

6. We have to do this because as a country we need to continue to support our seniors. Tan Tock Seng Hospital, in 1988, already saw this ahead of us. They started the first Geriatric Medicine department in Singapore and now, all hospitals in Singapore have a geriatric medicine department. Congratulations to Tan Tock Seng Hospital!

7. But we don’t want to make hospitals the focus of what we do, because we want to make Singapore an endearing home. A home, wherever you go, not just at your home, everywhere you go, you feel like home. At the same time, you want them to age well in their homes but also, in their communities, connected with their friends, connected with their families. That is why we are helping seniors stay engaged and socially connected. We have this concept called the Active Ageing Centres, and I hope all of you will participate in the activities. This is an infrastructure that will be built around the whole of Singapore, built in your neighbourhood. Go down, make friends, and enjoy the activities. If you have an elderly family member, I encourage you to bring them to an AAC near your home. You can have a good time there! It is somewhere you can go all the time in your neighbourhood.

8. In addition to better programmes and services for seniors, we are also leveraging research and innovation, to extend healthy lifestyles and lives across lifespan.

9. I’m glad that the Institute of Geriatrics & Active Ageing (IGA) will be driving this research in geriatrics and gerontology. For example, the IGA is spearheading the first longitudinal study of sarcopenia or in layman terms, muscle loss. As seniors, this is one of the first things that will happen to us. We lose muscles because we don’t use them. We are maybe too idle at home, not moving. At the same time, we also don’t eat well. We don’t take enough protein. Everyone thinks as we grow older, eat less meat, but that’s not true. We need to have enough protein, then your muscle can be built, and you can use your muscles. This study helped to identify early signs of muscle loss and predict frailty among adults and it will contribute to the development of guidelines not just in Singapore, but all over the world.

10. Now, IGA also participates in multidisciplinary applied research to better support seniors in their daily lives. Under the National Innovation Challenge on Active and Confident Ageing, partnering with NTU, they want to develop a personalised digital system that help reduce risk of physical frailty among seniors. I’m glad to hear that the outcomes of the study when it is is out there. I heard the outcomes have been positive.

11. Ladies and gentlemen, this year marks the 35th anniversary of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital Department of Geriatric Medicine, and the 10th Anniversary of IGA, I would like to congratulate Geriatric Medicine and IGA on your contributions and achievements.


12. Let us all play a part in transforming Singapore into a nation for all ages, not just for the young but for all ages, whether you have an elderly family member, or are a senior like yourself and myself. There is an exciting line-up of activities ahead. I encourage each of you to take the opportunity to find out more what ageing well means.

13. I wish everyone an enjoyable day. Thank you.

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