HDB homes, precincts to be more senior-friendly: PM Lee on preparing for a 'super-aged' society

"Some of them already exist today, but we need to improve them, scale up, and get ready for the large numbers down the road," he said.

Daniel Seow | August 20, 2023, 08:29 PM


WhatsappPrime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at National Day Rally 2023 on Aug. 20 that Singapore is taking "major steps" to prepare for a super-aged society.

He was speaking about how the government would help an increasing number of seniors age in place.

In his speech, PM Lee noted that many Singaporeans hope to live their golden years in their own homes and neighbourhoods, as it was a "familiar environment" where they had "established deep roots and meaningful friendships".

PM Lee noted that it "is a good thing" and elaborated on how the government will help seniors "age in place" by making HDB homes and precincts more senior-friendly.

Senior-friendly home features

PM Lee noted that the current EASE (Enhancement for Active Seniors) programme allows seniors to install fittings to make their houses more senior-friendly.

These features include ramps for wheelchair access and grab bars, and slip-resistant tiles to make toilets safer.

Moving forward, PM Lee stated that the suite of fittings will be expanded under EASE 2.0.

For example, seniors can install foldable shower seats and widened toilet entrances for wheelchair users.

Safer and more accessible neighbourhoods

PM Lee added that neighbourhoods would be made more accessible and pedestrian-friendly.

For example, more shelters and rest points would be built on roads and linkways used by seniors.

PM Lee added that neighbourhoods will have more features like therapeutic gardens, fitness trails, and exercise machines to encourage seniors to stay active.

Additionally, roads would be made more pedestrian-friendly with longer green man signals, 3D road markings and narrowed roads to slow cars down.

Barrier-free ramps and raised zebra crossings would also be installed to help wheelchair users get around.

Finally, larger and more colourful block signs with familiar symbols would be installed to help forgetful seniors return to their own blocks.

A possible block name in the future could be "Satay Block", he said.

Assisted living facilities

The government will also be rolling out more assisted living facilities like the Integrated Dementia Assisted Living project (IDeAL), PM Lee said.

This project is by Dementia Singapore at Block 115 Kebun Baru.

Many seniors live in their own flats in the block but hang out at the void deck, which serves as their "community living room" — where they play games, get haircuts and eat together.

The block also has shared facilities like a community kitchen and a telehealth room, which serve the needs of the seniors.

PM Lee explained that this allows seniors with dementia to live on their own while enjoying the warmth of friends and community.

He said that HDB will also be scaling up the Community Care Apartments construction.

These housing projects integrate senior-friendly flats with care services in the community.

There are two such projects at Bukit Batok and Queensway, with a third to be launched in Bedok later this year.

Preparing for a super-aged society

PM Lee stated that these initiatives will first be implemented in towns with more seniors, like Ang Mo Kio and Bukit Merah, before being rolled out nationwide.

"Some of these already exist today, but we need to improve them, scale up, and get ready for the large numbers down the road," he said.

Singapore is estimated to have a "super-aged" population by 2026, meaning that 21 per cent of Singaporeans will be 65 and above.

PM Lee emphasised that the government is tackling this issue through initiatives like active ageing and making homes and neighbourhoods more senior-friendly.

He also said these steps will be part of a new national programme called "Age Well SG", which focuses on improving seniors' health.

The relevant ministries will share more on this in the coming months.

Top image from MCI.