Modern Aging in Singapore

By 2030, almost 20% of Singapore’s population will be over 65 years old. Naturally, there has been an increased interest around the intersection between health and aging, and how to reduce the cost of aging.

On 19 th August, AVPN organised a monthly meetup with ACCESS Health International (ACCESS HI) on modern aging.

ACCESS HI is a non-profit think tank, advisory group, and knowledge and implementation partner. At its core, they are improving access to high quality, affordable healthcare. They operate across Asia, Sweden and the United States.

The event aimed to identify gaps in serving the needs of the elderly, and share how philanthropists and impact investors can fill these gaps. The gathering also highlighted the opportunities in aging businesses, from the perspective of venture philanthropists and impact investors.

Modern Aging Accelerator

Modern Aging Accelerator, is an ACCESS HI initiative that seeks to play the role of connector between social innovators and market researchers. Through Modern Aging social entrepreneurs have access to mentors with invaluable sector experience, while mentors can see the potential ideas in the early stages of the sector.

On the one hand, social innovators have solutions but they lack an understanding of the problems. Their creative innovations are less effective because they do not have knowledge on the most pressing issues that they should be targeting. On the other hand, market researchers have the information and are in search of solutions that already exist in the minds of the innovators.

Singapore vs. the Netherlands

Fredrik Knoeff, ACCESS HI’s newly hired Director of Operations and Program Development, shared about what Singapore can learn from the Dutch aging business.MAS-2

In general, social enterprises in Singapore grow through competition and challenging one another. However, he believes that they can benefit even more by growing through coalition, as is the case in the Netherlands.

Here are some specific ideas that he thinks Singapore can adopt:

  • Opoe – A pet care service that promotes animal-assisted therapy, where clients pay to have their pets taken care of by seniors
  • Granny’s Finest – A fashion label with products knitted by seniors who gather once a week with young designers, to promote inter-generation social interaction.
  • Nursing Home Radio Stations – A local station run by seniors from the nursing home itself, where residents can listen to music and content that is tailored to their interests by like-minded seniors
  • Shared Living Space – Elderly nursing homes offer rent free housing solutions for students who spend time teaching residents IT skills

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Mapping the Landscape – As a connector, Modern Aging can benefit the sector immensely by providing a map of the impact investing landscape in aging. Sometimes, corporates and investors have an idea that they want to implement, only to find that someone else is already doing the same.MAS-3
  2. Cross-Generation Interaction – The elderly and youths have more common ground than they think. Most social entrepreneurs, who are designing solutions to the problems of aging, are youths. Encouraging cross-generation interaction gets them to think about their target audience as people, not statistics.
  3. Engaging the Elderly – Besides designing solutions for seniors, the sector can benefit from solutions designed by the seniors. They know their own needs best. Modern Aging is partnering People’s Association to teach Design Thinking to seniors.
  4. Social Activities – One of the most pressing needs of aging is to maintain social activity and interaction. Cohabitation, is not the same as interaction. A sense of loneliness and depression were, surprisingly, most common amongst elderly living with their children.
  5. Bottom of Pyramid – Social enterprises need to be more mindful of the elderly at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid. Solutions that rely heavily on technology, specifically, such as apps, assume a certain standard of living that not everyone has.

About Author

Jeslyn is an intern at AVPN. She has recently completed her first year at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she is pursuing her BSc International Relations. Before joining AVPN, she has worked as an Accounting and Investor Relations Assistant at Arisaig Partners (Asia). She also volunteers with Very Special Arts (Singapore), a charity that rehabilitates people with special needs through the arts. Jeslyn is particularly fervent about solving social issues through female empowerment.