Survey reveals social satisfaction levels of senior citizens during isolation

Survey reveals social satisfaction levels of senior citizens during isolation
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A survey from the Singapore Management University revealed low social satisfaction levels of senior citizens during isolation.

Findings showed that social isolation during the circuit breaker period showed lower social satisfaction levels for senior citizens.

Social satisfaction levels dropped by about 4 per cent in May when compared with data from January.

Based on a monthly survey of about 7,500 people aged between 55 and 75, senior citizens living with others still recorded satisfaction levels that fell to the pre-circuit breaker levels of peers living alone. On the other hand, senior citizens who are living alone had even lower satisfaction levels as distancing restrictions made it harder for them to connect with friends and the community.

Satisfaction levels have rebounded after the circuit breaker period as of July. The coronavirus findings from the May to July iterations of the longitudinal Singapore Life Panel survey, held by SMU’s Centre for Research on Successful Ageing (Rosa), were presented at a media briefing by centre director Paulin Straughan.

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According to Prof Straughan, a sociologist and former Nominated Member of Parliament, as Singapore’s population grows older, the proportion of those who remain single and live alone will expand.

She stressed the importance of redesigning society and help every Singaporean, regardless of their situation, look forward to retiring gracefully.

She recommends living arrangements that provide an enclave of social support for senior citizens even if they are in the privacy of their own houses.

Results also revealed the impact of a digital gap on the well-being of senior citizens, with those who used communication technology manifesting higher levels of satisfaction and well-being as well as a lower sense of social isolation.

Moreover, the survey uncovered the unforeseen income loss faced by older Singaporeans during the pandemic.

People in their late 60s and 70s remained concerned about employment and employability, accoridngto Prof Straughan.

“We’ve talked about upskilling and rescaling and that’s important for the younger mid-lifers. However, for older adults, I do think that we need to take a more novel approach,” she noted.

She called on parties to come up with opportunities for those with years of experience and unique skills.

Quality of life

With the survey’s findings, the researchers will have a meeting with representatives from the Government and social service agencies to evaluate Covid-19 policies and existing initiatives as well as the development of new approaches to addressing issues experienced by senior citizens.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin stressed the importance of research in this subject since one in four Singaporeans will be 65 or older by 2030.

“We need to ensure that the quality of life for those who are ageing is looked after… It’s not just about the healthcare system. It’s also about living life healthily, physically and from a mental health perspective, being engaged,” said Mr Tan, who is also chairman of the People’s Action Party Seniors Group.

Prof Straughan said: “What we want to do is work together with government and related agencies which have a similar mission, and that is to advance the well-being of older Singaporeans and to advance propositions that can help us… to spend more of our extended lifespan in a healthy state.”

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