This was published on 1st July 2015 in the 'Letters on the Web' section. The Straits Times has also undergone a revamp.
My husband and I have been talking about moving into a retirement village before it is "too late".
One Canadian model I researched allows over-65s to move from independent living initially to more supported living and finally to where they get superlative dementia care.
After acute hospital care, the patient can always return because there is always support at the village, thus reducing "bed-blocking" at hospitals.
Crucially, this retirement village does not admit people requiring dementia care unless they are already a resident.
Gerontologists will be familiar with how the aged are often reluctant to move.
Moving within a village, however, is much less traumatic, because residents remain in close contact with the friends they made while they were still active and healthy.
Resident staff do not have to travel substantial distances to give perfunctory domiciliary care to those living alone and who need help getting in and out of bed.
Instead, staff can care, and care with pride. They are adequately compensated, do a much better job, and the residents are happy.
Residents of this retirement village also have to discuss and update their end-of-life options every year. The signed document or agreement is left where paramedics can see it as they enter the premises.
If the resident has chosen "Do not resuscitate", then, paramedics won't resuscitate. If the resident wants to die at home, doctors will try to let them do so, surrounded by their loved ones.
Technological advances mean we can prolong the human existence meaninglessly.
As for me, let me live happy, age happy, and then die happy.
Lee Siew Peng (Dr)