Singapore launched a S$3 billion (US$2.14 billion) plan cutting across agencies to improve services and prepare for the country’s ageing population.

The Action Plan for Successful Ageing sets targets for agencies to provide more elderly-friendly services and allow the elderly to be cared for and live in their own homes.

Ageing is the “single most important demographic shift” affecting Singapore’s future, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health said at its launch yesterday. By 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be 65 years old and above – double the number of elderly people today.

The plan, which was made in consultation with 4,000 citizens, “will enable us to build Singapore into the best home to age in”, Dr Khor said.

The National Research Foundation will spend S$200 million (US$142.64 million) on research around ageing. It will research how technology and design can help the elderly live independently.

It will look at how diseases and disabilities can be delayed, how seniors can re-learn new skills and whether “ageless work places” are possible.

The Ministry of Health will double the number of community care places, and increase the number of home care facilities by 50%.

The Land Transport Authority is installing special features on roads where there are more elderly people living or more accidents involving the elderly.

The number of such “silver zones” will be increased from seven to 35 in the next five years, including longer green lights for pedestrian crossings and elevators to cross overhead bridges. All public buses will be accessible by wheelchair in five years.

The government will open 40 “day care” centres for the elderly, and will such facilities close to childcare centres to help families look after both the young and the old.

The elderly will have the choice to work for longer, with the maximum retirement age to be delayed from 65 to 67 by 2017, and “the possibility of further increases in the future as our population ages”.

Image by Cycling Without Age, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.