Rapidly ageing Singapore urges seniors to use tech in managing their health

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SINGAPORE: While 76-year-old Pauline Tong is game enough to try tech-based activities to keep active, the senior still has a hard time figuring out mobile applications.

“I think there's too many programmes to learn,” she said. “After I’ve learnt it and go home and open a programme, I have to think of all the steps I have to take first. It's too complicated.”

To make life simpler for them, more than 190,000 seniors have been taught basic digital skills by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). Digital literacy is also a staple for seniors, like Ms Tong, who attend active ageing centres. 

This comes as Singapore’s healthcare strategy shifts towards preventive care and aims to get Singaporeans to actively manage their health, such as with the use of mobile applications. 

Only one in five seniors above the age of 55 are currently using these apps like HealthHub, even as the nation grapples with an ageing population. 

Seniors said a better user experience and more language options will encourage more to get on board.

ENCOURAGING SENIORS TO USE TECH

At one activity centre, volunteers encourage seniors to engage with technology daily by simplifying its usage. 

“We try to incorporate as much of this use of digital devices into our programmes itself,” said St. Luke's ElderCare senior manager Bernard Wan. 

“So for example, if they come down for a cooking class, then we want to get them to try to download recipes, and perhaps have one of the sessions over Zoom to ensure that they are continually using some of the skills that they have picked up."

While these centres are playing a bigger role to engage elders, ground-up efforts to reach those who live alone are also important.

For instance, Madam Ho Seh Moh was unaware of health apps until she was introduced to them by a volunteer. 

But her biggest challenge is the language barrier. 

“Like at Changi General Hospital, you need to book the appointments yourself. I can do it myself because there are Mandarin options. So this language issue is actually very important,” said Madam Ho. 

“If there's Mandarin, I can figure out how to do it. There's no chance if it's all in English.”

GUIDING SENIORS THROUGH TECH

Ms Maggie Chan, a volunteer under the Singapore Red Cr...

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