Singaporeans aged 40 to 65 are optimistic about ageing, according to a study
Respondents in this age group want to live their later years with energy and zest.
Singapore is one of the most rapidly ageing societies in the world today, with one of the world’s highest average life expectancy at 83.9 years. Not only are Singaporeans living longer lives, their attitudes towards ageing are also shifting. In fact, a new study by NTUC Income (Income) and NielsenIQ revealed that Singaporeans aged 40 to 65 are optimistic about ageing. Three in four (76 percent) Singaporeans in this age group said that they don’t feel old at all, while 75 percent believed that age is just a number and 72 percent felt that growing old isn’t as bad as what people think.
Respondents from the 50 to 65 age group also generally did not associate themselves with being ‘seniors’, a term that from their perspective was closely linked to their ‘older parents’, ‘retirement’, ‘dependent’ and ‘health issues’. The term also went against the way they saw themselves currently, which included ‘mature’, ‘prime age’, ‘active ageing’ and ‘warrior’. Most significantly, four in five (81 percent) respondents wanted to embrace their later years with energy and zest.
Marcus Chew, chief marketing officer, Income said, “Knowing that Singaporeans aged 40 to 65 are enthusiastic about getting older is empowering as it signals an innate drive to take both proactive and preventive actions to age successfully. We want to be an enabler in the national ageing agenda to help Singaporeans prolong their good years, prepare for, protect, and pursue quality and fulfilling lives in their later years.
“The insurance industry is typically skewed towards a younger demographic as traditional underwriting is designed to target the younger set as its primary customers. Such an approach will prove increasingly obsolete when older customers become a norm. In this regard, we have overhauled our thinking as an insurer and we see great benefit in empowering older Singaporeans to be physically, mentally and financially ready for the years ahead.”
Conducted online with 1,019 Singaporeans aged 40 to 65 with a per capita income of at least S$2,300, the study titled “Redefining the Prime of Life” took an in-depth look at their attitudes towards ageing, their views about their present life situation and prime of life, as well as their level of preparedness and confidence in navigating their later years. The quantitative consumer study was preceded by a qualitative research that provided insights to facilitate questionnaire development and fieldwork for the quantitative research.
Professor Paulin Straughan, director of the Singapore Management University’s Centre for Research on Successful Ageing (ROSA), said, “Age is but a social construct. With improvement in life expectancy, we now live longer, and it is important that we leverage these extended years. It’s encouraging to see that the study revealed a sense of optimism towards ageing amongst the 40 to 65 age group. I hope this translates to more embracing proactive lifestyles that will advance holistic well-being. It is important that we plan for successful ageing and take charge of our narrative.”
The study also found that three in four (76 percent) Singaporeans aged 40 to 65 saw their lives as being the same or better than before they turned 40. This sentiment was particularly evident among respondents who were married with kids (79 percent). In contrast, singles (63 percent) were the least positive about their present life situation when compared to other respondents.
When asked to evaluate the different aspects of their lives currently as compared to before 40:
- 84 percent said that their mental health is the same or better than before.
- 81 percent said their financial status is the same or better than before.
- 78 percent said their social life is the same or better than before.
- 74 percent said their physical health is the same or better than before.
With most respondents concurring that their present life situation is the same or better than before, the study also sought to understand if respondents felt that they were in their prime of life and what it meant to them. It revealed that one in two (48 percent) respondents believed that their prime is after 50 years old. More specifically, close to half (46 percent) of the respondents believed that they are currently in their prime, while one-third (31 percent) of the respondents believed that they have passed their prime, and one-fifth (23 percent) believed that they have not attained their prime of life.
When asked about the factors that contributed to them attaining prime of life, finance-related factors emerged tops, followed by health, freedom, personal development, family and social-related factors. More specifically, the findings revealed that to be in prime of life, Singaporeans, aged 40 to 65, want to live their lives on their own terms, with the top three contributing factors being:
- When I am having the financial means to do things that I want to do (49 percent).
- When I am stress-free and in a happier state of mind (47 percent).
- When I am having freedom and time to do things that I want to do (44 percent).
Amongst the 69 percent who said that they are currently in their prime or have yet to attain their prime, 63 percent believed that they could maintain or experience prime of life in the next phase of their life.
When asked to outline what this next phase of their lives would look like, the following emerged tops:
- I can do the things that I want because I have more time and fewer responsibilities (75 percent).
- I have more freedom and control of my life to do what I like (74 percent).
- I have the experience, knowledge and financial means needed to achieve what I want (69 percent).
When asked about the factors that are most important to them in their next phase of life, 89 percent cited physical and mental health, while 61 percent highlighted social bonds and connections with family and friends and 54 percent said it is their wealth and possessions.
However, when it comes to the actions that respondents are taking to prepare for their next phase of life, financial preparedness emerged as the top priority, followed by keeping themselves healthy:
- 78 percent said they are saving up as much as possible while working.
- 74 percent is practising prudence in spending.
- 72 percent are keeping mentally-engaged.
- 70 percent are maintaining a healthy diet.
- 65 percent are exercising.
- 65 percent are buying insurance.
These findings mirrored the top barriers that respondents cited would prevent them from attaining prime of life. They include:
- Contracting a major illness (61 percent).
- Becoming physically frail (59 percent).
- Becoming mentally unwell (41 percent).
- Having to pay huge or unexpected expenditure (34 percent).
- Losing my job (31 percent).
Additionally, the study revealed a stark contrast between the attitudes of the respondents and that of their parents’ generation in navigating life. An overwhelming 85 percent felt that they face greater uncertainties and disruptions in a fast and ever-changing environment compared to their parents’ generation.
Despite a more challenging environment, respondents (88 percent) cited that they do not want to be a financial or physical burden to their children in their later years. Seventy-eight percent believed that they are more financially savvy to plan for their next phase of life confidently as compared to their parents. In comparison with their parents’ generation, 82 percent of respondents cited having more resources and options to plan, while 77 percent believed that they have more freedom to deviate from traditional notions of success unlike their parents’ generation, who typically adhered to fixed or traditional success models.
“With each generation, we face different challenges as normative expectations shift. In particular, our population demographics reveal that more Singaporeans are remaining single. The study suggests that single respondents had greater concerns with health and finances disrupting their plans for retirement, perhaps because they have to prepare for successful ageing on their own. How do we evolve services that might partner our singles as they navigate through these challenges?” said Professor Straughan.
Income’s Chew said that with the study’s insights, they hope to raise awareness and spark action among Singaporeans to lead quality lives and to age successfully. Income has a ‘So Steady’ programme within Income’s app for its customers aged 50 and above that is dedicated to empowering them to live health and active lives. Key features of the programme include an activity and lifestyle tracker covering sleeping patterns, step counts, workout regimes and meal planning, as well as a rewards system that allows users to redeem awards in exchange for the Steady points accumulated from tracking their daily activities. The programme also features a portal that offers resources, helplines, and access to community groups. Public webinars with expert panellists are also in the pipeline, with the first one slated for September.