Around the world, there are an estimated 703 million people aged 65 years or older, making up 9 percent of the global population. This number is expected to more than double by 2050. In Singapore, this age group is predicted to account for more than 20 percent of the population by 2026.
To respond to the demographic shift, the Singapore government has set up a first-of-its-kind multi-stakeholder collaboration to pilot and test-bed new ideas in a project called Health District @ Queenstown. The objectives of this long-term, large-scale living laboratory are to enable healthy and purposeful longevity; promote intergenerational bonding; and nurture a community of all ages. As people live longer, there is a growing need to not just increase lifespan, but also to improve healthspan by reducing the number of frailty years. In Singapore, frailty years currently stands at 9 years (the median life expectancy is 85 years old and the median age when frailty sets in is 76 years old). Japan, in comparison, has 5 frailty years.
On the point about purposeful longevity, Emi Kiyota, who is part of the team behind the Health District @ Queenstown, emphasises the importance of a spontaneous community. That means working with the community to find out what they need, seeing them as co-designers, and empowering them to take action. She says, “What we want is to create socialising space where people can go and connect with others in an informal setting, and this means getting older persons and residents involved. It’s not like institutional care, where we control what the outcome is and older persons are simply being taken care of. Instead, we want to create a more spontaneous sort of environment where elders actually feel like they can participate and contribute to their community. This change in mindset helps them reclaim a sense of purpose and autonomy.”
For more information on the Health District @ Queenstown, click the link below.