What senior voters want

MUCH has been said about the “power” of young voters in the coming 15th General Election (GE15), but we should not forget the importance of older voters who generally place more value on their right to vote than the country’s youth.

Every election, you can see many senior citizens lining up for hours at voting stations despite their weakness and frailty, just to carry out their democratic duty and cast their vote.

In return, our prospective representatives should pay this sage cohort the attention they deserve, especially now with many facing the brunt of inflation and the rising cost of living.

As gerontologist Lily Fu puts it, seniors like her would vote for candidates who will support and push for reforms that benefit seniors and the community they live in.

“We would also choose a candidate or party that acts for all older people without discriminating against race or religion, someone who understands the challenges of ageing and is proactive about seeking solutions.

“It is also important that the candidate we vote in will listen to the voices and feedback of seniors before implementing anything to ensure success. Because, otherwise, it’s money and resources down the drain,” says the 74-year-old who is also the founder of Seniors Aloud, an online network of senior citizens.

Lily FuLily Fu

Fu also urges for an agency for an ageing population to be set up to push for the needs and rights of older people.

She points out that among the most pressing issues for seniors is the provision of long-term care centres, particularly for seniors with no family or financial support.

“Currently, there are only two government-run ones in whole country!” she points out.

The government must also stamp out ageism in employment, she says.

“Open job opportunities to able seniors who want to work to support themselves [and their families]. The new 60-year-olds are not frail, senile or ready to drop dead! There is a huge pool of retirees with a wealth of expertise and experience to draw on, given the shrinking young labour force.

“In this respect, the government should also open digital and entrepreneurial training and upskilling opportunities to older people. Publicise HRDF [Human Resources Development Fund] workshops, etc, so that these seniors can apply for them,” Fu says.

Another big area that needs attention is improving the country’s public transport system for the aged, especially for the last mile, she adds.

“The buses, especially feeder buses, are the bane of commuters. A total revamp is much needed. Also, have more age-friendly facilities in public places. When the government takes care of the public safety and needs of seniors, everyone benefits.

There should also be sustainable programmes for the welfare and wellbeing of older people. It is pointless to have occasional, one-off campaigns. They don’t work.”

Lastly, says Fu, all government websites need to be upgraded.

“Presently, they are the last place to go to for info, they are useless and the information available on them is outdated,” she notes.

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