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Government panel unveils key features of S$3b plan to help Singaporeans age well

An elderly reading a newspaper while the others watching a game session.

THE Ministerial Committee on Ageing has unveiled key new features of a S$3 billion national plan to help Singaporeans age well, and build and maintain strong bonds within the family and in the community.

The Action Plan for Successful Ageing, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday, includes about 60 initiatives covering 12 areas including health and wellness, volunteerism, employment, respect and social inclusion.

There are three key thrusts in the Action Plan.

The first thrust is to provide "opportunities for all ages" by creating more opportunities for seniors to keep healthy and continue learning:

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A new National Silver Academy will be set up to offer a wide range of learning opportunities for elders to stay active. It aims to provide more than 30,000 places for seniors by 2030.

A National Seniors' Health Programme will be launched to empower at least 400,000 seniors aged 50 years or older by 2030 to age more healthily. The programme will include healthy lifestyle campaigns and activities in the community as well as targeted interventions for mature workers at workplaces.

The re-employment age will be raised from 65 to 67 by 2017 to enable people to work longer if they are willing and able to.

The second thrust - to create a "Kampong for all ages" - focuses on strengthening intergenerational harmony:

The committee will co-locate eldercare and childcare facilities in new Housing & Development Board (HDB) developments to maximise opportunities for intergenerational interactions.

A "PAssion Silver" Card will be issued free to every Singaporean aged 60 and above or as they turn 60, to serve as a clear age identifier and to offer privileges to the elderly.

The third thrust is to develop a "city for all ages":

The committee proposed a transport plan to refresh MRT, bus, pedestrian and road infrastructure in the next 10 years to be more elder-friendly.

Up to S$200 million may be set aside for a National Innovation Challenge to catalyse research related to ageing. It complements Singapore's Smart Nation ambition and is aimed at encouraging the research community to innovate to transform the experience of ageing.

Active ageing hubs will also be built in new HDB developments.

The plans follow a year-long series of consultations involving over 4,000 Singaporeans and grassroots leaders by the Ministerial Committee and its partners.

The full Action Plan report will be released next year.

Gan Kim Yong, Minister-in-Charge of Ageing and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Ageing, said: "We need to plan ahead to ensure that Singaporeans need not worry about getting old but instead embrace new opportunities that come with longevity. We want Singapore to be the best place for Singaporeans to grow old in, and a model for successful ageing."