AsianScientist (May 24, 2019) – Researchers in Singapore released preliminary findings from the ‘Transitions in Health, Employment, Social Engagement, and Intergenerational Transfers in Singapore Study’ (THE SIGNS Study).
The team, led by Assistant Professor Rahul Malhotra, head of research at the Center for Ageing Research and Education at Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Medical School, surveyed a cohort of 4,549 community-dwelling Singapore citizens and permanent residents aged 60 years and above from 2016-2017. They paid particular attention to factors influencing health, well-being, activity and productivity levels in older Singaporeans.
“THE SIGNS Study focuses on physical health and healthcare utilization, psychological wellbeing, social networks, social participation, intergenerational transfers within the family, volunteerism, lifelong learning, work and retirement. All these factors affect older Singaporeans’ wellbeing, which in turn affects their ability to participate and contribute within their families, communities and the larger Singapore society as a whole,” said Malhotra.
The researchers found that about 62 percent of older Singaporeans rated their own health as good, very good or excellent, with a similar proportion across males and females and ethnic groups. However, about 38 percent reported having been diagnosed with three or more chronic diseases, with high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes and joint pain or nerve pain being the most commonly self-reported chronic physical ailments.
About 42 percent of older Singaporeans were pre-obese, indicating that lifestyle influences on wellbeing need to be examined more closely. In terms of psychological health, about 12 percent of older Singaporeans had clinically depressive symptoms, with the proportion increasing with age.
The team also noted that lower levels of personal well-being were associated with higher healthcare utilization. Being lonely, on the other hand, was associated with lower levels of healthcare use.
On lifelong learning, only 13 percent of older Singaporeans were found to have taken a course in the last 12 months of the survey, with major barriers cited as age, lower socioeconomic status and poor health. Women compared to men were more likely to engage in lifelong learning.
“This study enables us to provide policymakers with evidence on how older Singaporeans are doing on various dimensions of their lives, which impact on their active and productive engagement in the wider community and society,” said Dr Angelique Chan Wei-Ming , executive director at the Centre for Ageing Research and Education, Duke-NUS Medical School.
Source: Duke-NUS Medical School; Photo: Shutterstock.
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