One in four Singaporeans will be over 65 by 2030.
These are alarming numbers, especially since most people will spend a good portion of their twilight years dependent on others in many aspects of daily life.
A study by ageing expert Angelique Chan found that the average 60-year-old man here will live 22 more years and spend three years of that time disabled in some way.
The average woman of the same age, on the other hand, will live 26 more years, eight in disability.
The rapidly ageing population has prompted the Government to set up various programmes to help seniors struggling with health problems.
Here are some schemes that Singaporeans caring for an elderly family member should know about.
SENIORS' MOBILITY AND ENABLING FUND
What it is: Helps to offset costs for seniors who need equipment to help them stay independent, such as walking sticks, electric wheelchairs, or even spectacles and hearing aids.
This fund can also be used for people who require specialised transport to government-funded eldercare, dialysis or day hospice services.
Those who are frail enough to qualify for a nursing home, but instead are receiving government-funded home or community care services, can also get subsidies to pay for medical supplies such as adult diapers or wound dressings. How to qualify: You need to be at least 60 and will have to undergo a financial assessment.
You will also have to be assessed to determine what suits your needs best. Those who need subsidies for transport or medical supplies should approach their service providers.
ENHANCEMENT FOR ACTIVE SENIORS
What it is: A Housing Board scheme to make homes more senior-friendly.
People can get subsidies of up to 95 per cent to install non-slip flooring and grab bars in their toilets, as well as ramps to make it easier for a wheelchair user to get around. How to qualify: Your household must include someone who is 65 and above, or someone between 60 and 64 who requires help with at least one of the six basic daily activities. These are feeding himself, using the toilet, getting dressed, bathing, moving from room to room, and getting from the bed to a chair or vice versa.
These improvements are part of the HDB's Home Improvement Programme, which is being rolled out across Singapore.
However, you can also apply directly for the subsidised upgrades through the HDB's website.
CAREGIVERS TRAINING GRANT
What it is: A $200 subsidy you can use every year for courses that will help you care for your loved ones. You can also use the grant to sign up a foreign domestic helper for the courses.
These cover topics such as how to manage people who have dementia or had strokes, or even how to carry out tube feeding or basic nursing. How to qualify: You must be caring for someone who is 65 and above, or certified to have a disability.
The courses are provided by a variety of providers. You apply for the course of your choice online at the Singapore Silver Pages website and let the provider know that you are interested in using the grant. The provider will then send you the application form.
What it is: A disability insurance scheme managed by three private insurers - Aviva, Great Eastern, and NTUC Income - that provides cash payouts if you become disabled.
You can get a maximum of $400 a month for up to six years. This scheme is under review by the Government.
How to qualify: You must not be able to perform at least three of the six activities of daily living.
You will need to be assessed by a doctor before you can make a claim. This assessment costs between $50 and $150, and the cost will be refunded if your claim is successful.
FOREIGN DOMESTIC WORKER GRANT
What it is: A $120 monthly cash payment for those who need to hire a helper to care for someone with disabilities.
How to qualify: You must be formally assessed as being in need of permanent help with certain basic activities of daily living. Your family will have to undergo a means test, and your helper must attend an approved training course.
FOREIGN DOMESTIC WORKER LEVY CONCESSION
What it is: A cheaper monthly levy if you hire a foreign domestic worker to care for an elderly person, someone with disabilities or a child or grandchild.
The regular monthly levy is $265, but the concessionary rate is $60.
How to qualify: Seniors must be at least 65 and living at the same NRIC-registered address as the employer.
If you are applying under the scheme for those with disabilities, the person being cared for must be assessed as needing help with at least one activity of daily living.
PIONEER GENERATION DISABILITY ASSISTANCE SCHEME
What it is: A $100 monthly cash payment for seniors who are disabled and part of the Pioneer Generation.
How to qualify: You must be part of the Pioneer Generation - that is, you were born before 1950 and became a Singapore citizen before 1987.
You must also be formally assessed as being in need of permanent help with certain basic activities of daily living.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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