Our seniors – ascending the next higher peak
Stereotyping of seniors as being frail or in need of help is a major disservice to those who are leading active lives and contributing back to society.
BY: Tan Peng Ann
Growing old is a natural process. As we pass the age of 55 (the age where we can officially withdraw ours savings from CPF) and hit 60 or 62 years, which is the retiring age for many, our physical faculties tend to be slower and we become less agile. However that does not mean we cannot contribute to society, we can still do so, not just to our community through such activities like volunteering, but also to our families. Having acquired learning from schools including the School of Life, those older possess more experience and can definitely pass their knowledge, skills and experiences to those younger.
Sadly, the general perception of those who are older are often portrayed negatively – old, frail and weak, and in need of help. This may be true for some, but for many retirees, they are active and independent. We are even busier than we were when we were working! The older population is often stereotyped as only capable of doing menial work and that is so untrue, as they can do much more. We have seen many retirees and seniors still active in work, in social life and indeed in sports. Those who now are joining the ranks of the seniors, the post-war baby boomers, are physically and mentally better off than their predecessors and this is thanks to the improvements made in medical science. However, we should not rest on our laurels and more should be done to show seniors in active participation in their communities and businesses. We should stop the stereotypes as they impact the retirees and seniors negatively, as well as affect the younger generation. I believe it can undermine the basic foundation of Asian culture in which the young respects the old. The seniors must not be seen as a liability to the society or to the young.
In more developed countries, seniors are now featured as enjoying their retirement phase actively, participating in recreation and other activities. They also play important roles in the family as grandparents. This image of the seniors living meaningful and respected lives will encourage active aging and this is something we should continue to push forward. As we become a community with more seniors, let us all work towards presenting them in a more positive light. They are not over the hill; I see them as ascending the next higher peak!
At 61, Tan Peng Ann already owns three cafés and has taken over an existing café called Wild Pot at the Singapore Management University. He hopes to promote this business model to other seniors as he calls it a “low-cost” investment and will keep seniors occupied. He also shares his thoughts about a graceful and fulfilling retirement in a book called “Create Your Rainbow”.