THE new perception of a retirement village is not of a nursing home for the elderly sickly and poor, but of a bustling residential centre for the new generation of active, elderly Singaporeans.
Their profile will be different from previous generations. They are likely to be in their 50s and form the bulk of Singapore's changing elderly population.
The new silver generation will mostly be well-educated and relatively financially independent when they retire. They are also likely to be healthy enough not to require round-the-clock nursing home care.
Their key concern, be they married or single, childless or otherwise, is to grow old gracefully and aspire to quality, individual living. They do not want to be dependent on their children and understand their children's need for their own space.
This new aged generation will reshape the traditional notions of ageing.
So, their concept of a retirement village is not a nursing or sheltered home, or for that matter a 30-year lease HDB studio flat.
Having travelled more and sampled more of life's pleasures, they will expect a finer lifestyle. What they are likely to expect of a retirement village will be a menu of homes, tailored to price and affordability. Facilities they expect may include a well-being centre, exercise facilities, library, swimming pool, hairdressing salon, bistro, security, emergency back-up, communal lounge, gardens and guest suites where relatives can stay for a fee.
Retirement developments should be in a high-growth area in Singapore. The social interactions possible within such a village concept would provide an ideal environment for continued active retirement. The families of these senior citizens would desire to visit too - with the grandchildren having a swim and then lunch or dinner with their grandparents.
Such retirement villages will not become cut off from society at all and older people will unlikely end up alone.
I hope the authorities and developers will embrace such a concept for new ageing citizens and not wait until it is too late to discover that the bulk of us have happily and actively retired to neighbouring countries.
Julia Ng (Ms)
Source: Straits Times, 22 May 2010