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Special Needs and Ageing Well – Part 1



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Concerns about ageing


Have you ever wondered what the concerns of ageing parents of an adult with special needs might be?


Many COH clients are already over 40 and their parents are over 60 years of age. Quite a few are experiencing the frailties of life, and feeling anxious about their children’s future welfare.


COH Executive Director Samuel Koh who is in regular contact with the caregivers of his wards, identifies with their fears and feels deeply for them.


“Their greatest burden is about who will take care of their child after they pass away,” says Mr Koh. What if there are no family members who can take over as caregiver?


In the course of the past 11 years, he has had many a heart-wrenching conversation with such parents.


What can the community do to help?


In this three-part series of articles titled Special Needs and Ageing Well, we explore:


1. How community can help the parents as they age


2. The residential care facilities available in Singapore


3. How to better support these families through life transitions.


Helping Parents with Special Needs Children Plan to Age Well


It is more difficult for parents of an adult with special needs to deal with issues of ageing than the average Singaporean. They can be so occupied with taking care of their child on a day-to-day basis and worrying for his future, that they neglect to plan for themselves.


Helping them to age well and deal with practical issues that come their way is one way to offer support.


Immediate family members and relatives (e.g. siblings, children, grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews) are often the first to pick up on these concerns and are best positioned to assist in this. Talking about such issues and directing them to the relevant resources, can help them feel more in control. Please refer to the resource list below.


Professionals in organisations serving adults with special needs can consider putting programmes in place to help the parents talk about and work through issues such as their physical and mental well-being, stress levels as caregivers, finances, and short and long term care plans. Discussions on the sustainability of current care arrangements, respite care options, how to select someone in their family and/or social support system to arrange for the child’s admission into an Adult Disability Home in the event of a parent’s unexpected medical crisis, are also important. Inviting experts to give talks can be helpful as well.


For more information, visit:

  • Living Matters: Singapore’s national Advance Care Planning (ACP) programme that enables people to plan for their health and personal care.
  • Living Matters’ Planning for My Care brochure in English (PDF)Chinese (PDF), and Malay (PDF) 
  • Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA): A legal document which allows a person, to appoint one or more persons, to make decisions and act on his behalf as his proxy decision maker in the event his mental capacity diminishes.
  • Writing a Will
  • Life Point: A pilot project set up by the Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services, that assists elderly, age 55 and above, to make informed decisions for matters relating to the last stages of their lives, to ensure the preservation of their self-respect, dignity, and peace of mind.
  • Special Needs Trust Company Limited (SNTC): In June 2008, with the support from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (then MCYS), the National Council of Social Service incorporated the SNTC to provide trust services, set up and manage an endowment fund for the benefit of persons with special needs.
  • Trust Services: A Trust is a legal relationship in which an individual or institution holds assets, subject to a legal obligation to keep or use the assets for the benefit of another.
  • Special Needs Savings Scheme (SNSS): The SNSS was developed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development in partnership with the Central Provident Fund Board to enable parents to set aside CPF savings for the long-term care of their children with special needs.
  • University of the Third Age serves the elderly. They offer Guided Autobiography courses/workshops that can assist in helping one think through their life experiences, clarify priorities, perspectives and lead to better decision making.


About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.


Credit to "The COH Resource Team"

About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.



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