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Do more to help single women like me who shoulder caregiving burden, worry about needs in old age

I am a single woman in my late 40s. I am glad that TODAY decided to highlight the growing number of ageing singles in Singapore and the issues they face.

The issue of ageing disproportionately affects single women, because women are predominantly the caregivers in their family.

The issue of ageing disproportionately affects single women, because women are predominantly the caregivers in their family.

I am a single woman in my late 40s.

I am glad that TODAY decided to highlight the growing number of ageing singles in Singapore and the issues they face.

The issue of ageing disproportionately affects single women, because women are predominantly the caregivers in their family.

Caregivers usually put their families’ needs before theirs, leaving them with less or no resources during their twilight years.

And since women live longer than men, they are more likely to face increased health complications as they age and spend more years in disability, potentially with insufficient resources.

In my family, the women play a variety of caregiving roles.

My grandmothers and mother were full-time homemakers and caregivers. My sister and sister-in-law took years off work to care for their children.

And we single sisters built our lives around looking after our parents.

Our mother departed in 2015.

Dad, who is in his late 70s, had several falls and two minor strokes in a year.

It is heart-wrenching to see his health deteriorate. There is no doubt that my siblings and I will give our dad the best care possible while we can.

But we are unsure if we can say the same for ourselves, as we do not have the next generation to support us in old age.

At present, I am a technical coordinator in the maritime sector. So I can still get by with Dad’s care and expenses.

My worry is what might happen down the line if his health deteriorates and he needs a full-time caregiver. Would we be able to get a helper to care for him?

Failing that, would I have to give up my work (and medical benefits, which will be more essential as I get older)?

This would most likely spell the end of my working life.

Although community support to counter social isolation will indeed be important, older women fundamentally need material support.

Some concrete ways that the Government can provide more support are:

  • Providing caregivers with more financial help (on top of the present Home Caregiving Grant)

  • Making CareShield Life insurance premiums gender-neutral so that women do not have to pay more. The higher premiums for women have been justified as “actuarially fair” owing to women’s higher life expectancy. But, as a government-run insurance scheme, CareShield Life is not profit-driven and should be more inclusive. It should recognise that women, on average, earn less than men, and have less in their MediSave health savings accounts

The Government has rolled out help based on cohorts: The Pioneer and Merdeka Generations.

Instead of dividing people into arbitrary “generations”, shouldn’t we look at how people’s circumstances change over their lifetime?

The caregiving that women like me perform in their 40s and 50s will have an impact on our lives when we are older and need help.

Should I be planning my future based on the hope that my generation’s package will suffice?

As time goes on, my foremost concern is financial security, above all else.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

Related topics

ageing women caregiving CareShield Life health

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