Singapore, 2 September 2021 (Thursday) – A pandemic such as COVID-19 resulted in mandatory social distancing to prevent infection and increased risks of isolation, but Singapore’s older adults have also reported how friends, family and co-workers rallied to help them in these times of need. Many also illustrated how they were resilient in adapting to the pandemic, which is one of the key findings unveiled by SMU’s Centre for Research on Successful Ageing (ROSA) in its report titled, “Growth and Resilience During COVID-19: The Impact of the Pandemic on Older Adults in Singapore”. This report was made possible with the generosity of The Ngee Ann Kongsi.
The report served as a compilation of the research that the centre had conducted on older adult well-being in the past year, but also presented new findings from a series of focus groups that the centre had run to learn more about how older adults have coped during the pandemic. The focus groups were conducted with Singapore Life Panel® (SLP) participants aged 56-75 (inclusive) in 2021. A total of 7 focus groups were conducted, with 35 participants in total.
The findings from the focus groups served to contextualise trends that had been observed in previous surveys run by the centre. For instance, the pandemic had led to interruptions in healthcare provision, but older adults previously surveyed remained surprisingly satisfied with their health. The focus groups revealed that many older adults had benefited from the shift to working from home by adopting exercise routines with their free time that improved their health conditions.
As Singapore transitions into the new endemic phase, where the country eases COVID curbs, ROSA’s research aims to gain a better understanding of the ‘ageing Singaporean’, and to spotlight ideas to support and improve their well-being. The report thus also highlighted several developments made at ROSA to this end, including the recruitment of a younger sample for the SLP aged 50-55, and the expansion of the scope of study at the centre to include new topics.
Full details of the report can be accessed here.
“As we move into the endemic phase of COVID-19, it is important for us to do a stock-take of what we have learnt from the pandemic so far in order to help older adults transition into this new phase. It is also important to recognise the many ways that older adults have demonstrated resilience in the face of the pandemic. Only in doing so can we adopt the right strategies to proactively enable older adults to not just adapt, but flourish as we move forward," said Professor Paulin Straughan, Director, ROSA.
Key findings and recommendations:
1. Older adults have been innovative in coping with the pandemic.
2. The pandemic so far has not been all bad for older adults in Singapore
3. Social support is important in more ways than one, including networks of neighbours
The past year has very much been defined by, and for good reason, the COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented nature of the crisis and its effect on the well-being of older adults in Singapore made it paramount for ROSA researchers to study it in efforts to support policymakers in handling the unanticipated developments that came about as a result.
The ROSA team made significant contributions to this end, and will certainly strive to continue doing so as the pandemic and its effect on our lives continues to persist. That being said, as society adapts to the ‘new normal’ and as Singapore learns to treat COVID-19 as ‘endemic’ rather than a ‘pandemic’, the ROSA team plans to expand the scope of research on the ‘ageing Singaporean’ beyond pandemic related issues.