Singapore Journal: How Partnerships Promote Global Solutions

by Published On: Feb 17, 2012Updated On: Apr 02, 2015

During my February trip to Singapore, I marveled at the intentional way in which our partners in this Southeast Asian city-state are approaching the anticipated growth in their nation’s aging population. Seven percent of Singaporeans are over age 65, but that figure is expected to reach 19% by 2030.

Singapore is responding to its coming “age wave” by looking beyond its national borders to find and replicate proven ways to support a growing older population. I’m pleased to report that through our participation in the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing (IAHSA), the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research has been able to assist in that effort.

The partnerships we’ve forged through IAHSA have brought me to Southeast Asia 5 times in the past 3 years. 

During each trip, I’ve been able to provide technical assistance to Singaporean researchers, aging advocates and government officials, and to participate in university lectures, workshops and conferences designed to explore promising aging-in-place strategies.

On my most recent trip, I offered several workshops on applied research to students in the Master of Gerontology program at SIM University (UNISim), a well-respected institution of higher education in Singapore. 

These workshops provided students, who work primarily in government agencies, with the tools they will need to carry out ongoing research as Singapore evaluates new aging-in-place models. 

The Impact of Partnerships 

With our help, Singapore has begun to view its plentiful supply of subsidized housing as a valuable asset that can be used to help older adults remain healthy and independent for longer. To help our partners take full advantage of this asset, the Center for Applied Research has been working hard to share what we know about the housing-with-services models that could work well in Singapore’s multigenerational “housing estates.”

My recent visit convinced me that this work is beginning to have an impact: 

  • Our research partner, the TSAO Foundation, is preparing to replicate the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a U.S. model of capitated managed care featuring medical and social service delivery to frail elders living in the community.
  • The Singapore government is preparing to test a variety of aging-in-place strategies through demonstrations that will bring services into 4 housing estates and will explore ways to improve the physical environment of those housing communities so older adults can remain mobile and engaged.

These initiatives illustrate the important supportive role that American researchers and program experts – including the Center for Applied Research – are playing in Singapore’s efforts to plan age-friendly communities. 

Because Singapore is an economic leader among Asian nations, the models it develops will eventually influence the entire region, where IASHA has many members.

The countries of the world have much to learn from one another as we all deal with an unprecedented demographic phenomenon that will affect the health of our citizens, our workforces and our economies. 

The Center for Applied Research intends to continue sharing its research and expertise with the global community so that, together, the world’s nations can develop policies and practices that improve the lives of older people and their caregivers.


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