Minister for Health, Mr Ong Ye Kung
Professor Tan Tai Yong, President, Singapore University of Social Sciences
Distinguished Guests and Partners
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Welcome to the launch of this year’s Time of Your Life (TOYL) Celebration, which is jointly organised by NLB and SUSS. I am happy to see many of our partners, seniors and caregivers today, at our first in-person launch event since the pandemic. A warm welcome too to everyone who has joined us online.
2. As we are well aware, Singapore’s population is ageing rapidly, but old can be gold. Singaporeans now have a longer lifespan, experience better health, and have more opportunities than before to age well. Over the weekend, Professor Tommy Koh outlined the ten joys of growing old in Singapore in an article in Sunday Times, and he included the public library system as one of the reasons.
3. In line with the Ministry of Health’s strategies on preventive care and successful ageing, we are coming together as a community – the Government, academia and private sector partners – to celebrate and empower our seniors to age well. NLB plans to be an active player and will expand the opportunities for seniors to enjoy the golden years.
NLB’s Efforts for Seniors to Age Well and Live Well
4. NLB has been running programmes and services across our libraries and archives, including many with our partners, to equip seniors with information and activities to live well. We believe it is important for all of us to gain a better understanding of the changes we are going through as we age, and importantly to discover ways to continue to thrive. This is an integral part of our Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025, to enable learning opportunities for all, including seniors through our vibrant Learning Marketplace.
5. Since 2011, we have been collaborating with educational institutions with expertise in Gerontology, such as SUSS, to hold The Time of Your Life Celebration to offer more learning opportunities for seniors. This year marks the third time we are working together with SUSS on the Celebration. We are glad to have had thousands of seniors and caregivers joining in this celebration over the years. Last year for instance, 3,000 seniors and caregivers took part in more than 30 programmes we held across the island and online.
6. Aside from this annual event, we have targeted outreach programmes that aim to address some of the pressing issues of ageing, such as dementia. In 2021, NLB partnered with SUSS and Dementia Singapore on The Reminiscence Project to support persons with dementia and their caregivers. The National Archives of Singapore (NAS), part of NLB, provided archival resources like pictures of olden day Singapore for seniors to reminisce about the past and stay mentally agile in the process. Our librarians also volunteered at the project’s facilitation sessions to encourage seniors and engage them and their caregivers, to better understand how we can better support their learning needs.
New Offerings at The Time of Your Life Celebration 2023
7. This year’s Celebration, themed “Ageless Creativity, Golden Opportunities”, has grown to be even bigger. Seniors and their caregivers can look forward to more than 80 programmes, both online and in-person. They include today’s keynote seminar on reminiscence and dementia, healthy ageing masterclasses with Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Institute of Geriatrics & Active Ageing, and others offered by our community partners, such as yoga for caregivers.
8. We also worked with partners to organise learning programmes within the community. For instance, one of the pre-events leading up to this year’s Time of Your Life Celebration involved seniors and caregivers visiting the Parkinson Society Singapore and SG Assist, a senior and caregiver resource centre, to learn first-hand about the work they do there, and services they could consider tapping.
9. According to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, socially-isolated older adults have a higher chance of developing dementia. Reading and social interactions can open the windows to the world, and reduce our risk of dementia. To help our seniors do that, NLB and SUSS will be launching exciting new interactive resources at this year’s Celebration.
10. SUSS developed an intergenerational reminiscence game called “Come! Let’s Chat”, in consultation with experts in the field of Gerontology. The team also worked with NAS who curated visuals of past and present-day Singapore to encourage seniors to recall, reflect on their past and by doing so, promote their psychological well-being, self-esteem and happiness through the power of reminiscence.
11. These visuals are also available as digitised Memory Cards, for families, caregivers or anyone looking to engage seniors, which can be downloaded free via the NLB website. These cards will provide more opportunities to engage seniors in a fun and easy way, through games or conversations. We hope this opportunity will encourage seniors to also share their stories, and develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of Singapore’s heritage and identity.
12. NLB has also collaborated with the Ministry of Health to produce a new resource guide that features books and video recommendations curated by our librarians. These resources would encourage seniors to be proactive and up-to-date on their health and well-being. You can browse through the copy in your goodie bag, or download an e-version at go.gov.sg/toyl2023-list.
13. This year’s Celebration would not have been possible without the close partnership of SUSS. I would like to thank SUSS for their strong support, and am very happy that we will be extending our partnership by another two years. I look forward to working closely with SUSS to develop even more opportunities for seniors to discover ways to live and age well.
14. Thank you everyone, for joining us today, and I wish that all of you will have a meaningful time learning together and from each another.