Researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School’s Centre for Aging Research and Education (CARE) conducted a longitudinal study between 2016-2017 looking at factors influencing health, well-being; activity and productivity levels in older Singaporeans. The Transitions in Health, Employment, Social Engagement, and Intergenerational Transfers in Singapore Study (THE SIGNS) is conduct in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Factors influencing health

“THE SIGNS study focuses on physical health and healthcare utilisation, psychological wellbeing, social networks, social participation, intergenerational transfers within the family, volunteerism, life- long learning, work and retirement. Because All these factors affect older Singaporeans’ wellbeing, which in turn affects their ability to participate and contribute within their families, communities and the larger Singapore society as a whole,” said Dr. Therefore Rahul Malhotra, Assistant Professor of Health Services and Systems Research and Head of Research at the Centre for Aging Research and Education, Duke-NUS Medical School.

The team surveyed a cohort of 4,549 community-dwelling Singapore citizens and permanent residents aged 60 years and above. Key findings of the study include: While about 62% of older Singaporeans rated their own health as good, very good or excellent, with a similar proportion across males and females and ethnic groups; about 38% rated their health as fair or poor. Therefore These individuals report having been diagnose with three or more chronic diseases.

Females and ethnic groups

The most common were high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, joint pain/arthritis/rheumatism or nerve pain and diabetes. About 42%t were pre-obese; indicating that lifestyle influences on well-being need to be examined more closely. In terms of psychological health; about 12% of older Singaporeans had clinically depressive symptoms, with the proportion increasing with age.

There was significant influence of psychological health on healthcare utilisation; where lower levels of personal well-being are associate with higher healthcare utilisation. Therefore  Being lonely, on the other hand; was associated with lower levels of healthcare use. Because The study found that stronger social networks were associated with a lower likelihood of depression and loneliness.

Social engagement and participation were found to correlate with the access to services such as financial management and environmental access e.g. grocery shopping or using public transport. Because Singapore’s population is aging rapidly. Recent estimates suggest that by 2030, approximately one-quarter of the population will be above the age of 65.

Lower levels of personal

Longevity has been increasing steadily in Singapore and with longevity it is important to understand the social; psychological and physical health aspects of older Singaporeans; in order to assess their causes and estimate how their well- being in these domains changes over time. Because “This study enables us to provide policy makers with evidence on how older Singaporeans are doing on various dimensions of their lives; which impact on their active and productive engagement in the wider community and society.
This baseline understanding can guide the development of targeted policies and programmes; therefore which seek to provide them with more opportunities to actively and productively participate and contribute to Singapore society;” said Dr. Chan Wei-Ming Angelique; therefore Associate Professor of Health Services and Systems Research and Executive Director at the Centre for aging Research and Education, Duke-NUS Medical School