Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Ageing in Singapore is taking place at a rapid pace because of the increase in life expectancy and the decrease in birth rates. From my perspectives, there are many misconceptions about ageing that could affect our perceptions towards older adults. Therefore, I think that individuals need to increase their knowledge and understanding of ageing. This would help prevent more stereotypes and discrimination towards the older generation. Negative perceptions could also result in elderlies being disregarded and under-appreciated in our society. I think that values and attitudes are important concepts in my life. I am aware that my comprehension and perception of ageing plays an important role in shaping my behaviour and interactions with older adult clients in the future.
Firstly, society tends to view all elderlies as remote. However, I think that they are sociable and active in the community. I have observed many seniors that participate in Community Centres (CC), Residents’ Committees (RC) and Neighbourhood Committees (NC) programmes to stay socially engaged. Furthermore, many also participate in group programme sessions such as Zumba, Tai Chi, and yoga. They build a strong social network with other seniors and are also looking out for one another. During my volunteer work experience, I notice that many can forge friendships easily and engage in social interaction with other seniors. Furthermore, I think that seniors in Singapore tend to have much more active engagement with life as compared to their counterparts from other countries.
Secondly, some elderlies are vulnerable. They are usually susceptible to illness due to a decreasing immune system. Some common conditions include hearing loss, cataracts, and chronic diseases. This is due to the fact that ageing associates with many biological changes taking place in their bodies. Additionally, many are at risk of developing mental disorders, neurological disorders, and substance use problems. I think that this is likely because of stressors such as significant loss in capabilities, a decline in functional ability and loss of social connection. Other issues would include doubting their self-worth due to the exposure of negative connotations about themselves. These stressors could lead to social isolation, depression, and loneliness when not managed well.
Furthermore, they are also at a higher risk of being emotionally affected because they may encounter many situations where people have negative views about elderlies. This is because ageism does exist in our society. I believe that society’s negative perceptions of ageing could affect their self-esteem and self-perception as well.
In my opinion, the available family and social assistance are very crucial for them, especially when their physical and mental impairments make it difficult for them to care for themselves. The caregiving support is usually from family members so the elderly without such care may be particularly vulnerable as well. Since I am compassionate in working with elderlies, I think family members play an important role in caregiving older adults. It is crucial to remember that we should not always expect them to be independent even if they try to show a strong and positive side of themselves. This is because they might try to hide their vulnerabilities from their caregivers to avoid being seen as a burden. In my opinion, it is a family responsibility to care for their elders as they age. I believe that majority of the older adults have spent all of their lives for their families. They have raised, support and made them able to live in society. Therefore, it is the family responsibility to provide them with moral and physical support since they were once dependent on the older adults.
However, I think that there are some that are very tough and hardy in combating their vulnerabilities. I have great respect for their resilience as they adapt to their life. Many are competent to avail themselves to the opportunities for social participation and community engagement. They also utilise social support around them. I think that every elderly should not be viewed as always dependent, and not all of them requires interventions just because of their age.
Additionally, I think that society underestimates the elderly’s cognitive capabilities in deciding on what is best for themselves. Some of them are proactive about planning their life. This includes the ability to decide on how they might need to make changes to their lives or their environments to ensure that they are going to be able to live comfortably. Many can also decide where they want to live and how they would want to spend the rest of their lives. Thus, I believe that they have so much more capability than anybody because they have much more knowledge and life experience. Thus, I feel that many situations show that they could exceed everyone else’s capability.
I have participated in some volunteer works with older adults in hopes of contributing to a much-needed societal change. I am aware of the stereotypes that can adversely affect my attitudes toward older adult clients. To reduce biases that can impact the working relationship, I must examine my values and attitudes towards ageing. Moreover, I am aware that social connectedness would be the core constant for maintaining their optimal quality of life since the needs of the ageing population are continuously changing. On top of that, I believe that every elderly is different and have unique personalities Generalising every elderly to have the same kind of behaviour is a wrong approach to viewing them.
From my perspectives, I am altruistic and considerate toward older adults. As a social worker, I believe that these personal values could help me in helping to provide adequate and efficient support to my clients. I believe that having a holistic understanding of their thoughts and feelings is crucial in helping to mitigate any negative feelings towards self-perception. This is because I feel that no one should be concern about living with the pending stigma of being an elderly as they age. Instead of viewing ageing negatively, I think it should be a symbol of strength and a repository of treasured experiences and wisdom.