The Seniors Panel of the AMP 4 National Convention will be centring their discussion based on the theme of appropriate support and resources for the care of Muslim seniors and their caregivers.
Research conducted by the Seniors Panel has uncovered the following:
Knowledge of Caregiving Challenges but Not How to Overcome Them
According to respondents, while caregivers are aware of the ageing-related concerns that seniors face, there is less awareness of how to resolve these concerns and what resources are available.
Some ageing-related problems include the deterioration of physical health and decreased cognitive function in the form of dementia, boredom, and loneliness.
64% of respondents reported having a less than good awareness of the programmes and services available to improve caregiving for seniors. According to them, caregivers were unaware of the services and programmes available for seniors to manage ageing-related concerns.
Operations of Senior Services: More Cultural Sensitivity, Closer Proximity to Caregivers, and Affordability
As perceived by the respondents, caregivers from the Muslim community highlighted how the current system in place to care for Muslim seniors in Singapore continues to be inadequate in meeting the needs of Muslim seniors.
According to them, senior care services are located at inconvenient locations far from home, remain costly, and suffer from a lack of home nursing services and day care centres – services that caregivers from the Muslim community have identified as most needed.
More Muslim Activities and Reduced Language Barriers
In terms of the religious needs of Muslim seniors, senior care services in Singapore are perceived by the respondents as not to be contributing to the spiritual development of Muslim seniors. There were worries about the lack of Muslim staff in senior centres.
Today, there are both Muslim and non-Muslim organisations running senior care centres. However, according to respondents, caregivers highlighted how mainly non-Muslim organisations run these care centres, which is believed to decrease the likelihood of Muslim-centric activities being programmed. For instance, there are calls to have more Quran-reading sessions, prayers, and zikir sessions, which caregivers believe will improve the welfare of seniors.
Advocacy Role Within Muslim Community
Today, respondents feel like traditional notions of filial piety prevent important challenges associated with caregiving from being discussed.
Mosques, according to them, have been seen as a potential site to push for change and encourage thought leadership in the realm of senior care for Muslims. As a site of congregation for all layers of the Muslim public, mosques are seen as a potential forum site to discuss and promote the resources available to caregivers to assist with senior care.
Respondents hoped that mosques can overcome the stigma of the Muslim community toward senior care centres and create an open forum to talk about eldercare. For example, respondents want to destigmatise the outsourcing of caregiving work to programmes and services external to the home. They also hope mosques and their leaders can advocate for new notions of filial piety.
Singapore is experiencing significant demographic changes, with a rapidly aging population and a total fertility rate (TFR) that is below the replacement rate. Hence, the question of care for seniors with aging-related issues has come into sharp focus.
The two main stakeholders in the care debate are caregivers and seniors. Caregivers are either put in positions where they must care for an aged loved one. At the same time, seniors experience aging-related concerns that adversely affect their physical and mental health. It is crucial to identify the specific needs of both groups to create a comprehensive system of care that not only provides care for seniors but also relieves some of the caregiving duties that caregivers might have.
In addition, conceptions of care for caregivers and seniors have been guided by concepts of filial piety. While filial piety has deepened the commitment of caregivers to aged family members, it has also prevented the creation of a forum to honestly discuss methods of caring for seniors that might take place outside the family due to non-familial caring being considered taboo. With caregivers, seniors, and filial piety in mind, the convention hopes to be the forum to put forth and discuss caregiving in detail.