Enhancing overall health outcomes and wellbeing of older adults

The contribution of group members on a study project can get taken for granted, with storied senior leaders gaining most of the focus.

A current exception is Micah Tan, an associate researcher at the Centre for Study on Productive Ageing (ROSA) at Singapore Management University (SMU). For his collaborative operate at ROSA, Tan was recognized with an inaugural 2022 Study Employees Excellence Award.

Winning the award has provided me a powerful sense of fulfilment and has inspired me to want to do extra, each for the SMU neighborhood but also extra typically in terms of contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of older adults.”

Micah Tan, Associate Researcher, Centre for Study on Productive Ageing (ROSA), Singapore Management University

Tan was drawn to a study profession by way of his interest in men and women.

“From a young age I loved to interact with men and women and to understand extra about diverse cultures, and I discovered that conducting social science study was an excellent way for me to place this interest to fantastic use,” he says.

Tan’s operate has concentrated on older adults, which could look surprising for a comparatively young academic.

“Substantially of my motivation for wanting to conduct study connected to older adults comes from my personal private experiences,” he says. “Expanding up, I watched my personal parents go by way of the transition from functioning complete-time to retirement and it created me feel about what that transition meant and what life ought to be like in retirement.

“Also, Singapore is facing a quickly ageing population and it is becoming increasingly vital for us to address social difficulties emerging from this demographic trend.”

Constant messaging

A paper co-authored by Tan, which caught the eye of the Awards panel, was written for the duration of the early days of the COVID pandemic and identified that a essential attitudinal barrier major to vaccine hesitancy amongst older residents was trust, or lack of it, in the government’s messaging.

“A single point to clarify is that our study discovered that a significant majority of Singaporeans did nevertheless have higher trust in the government all through the pandemic. Nevertheless, for the couple of that did not, I feel a single essential issue that may possibly have led to this was the rise in alternate narratives in the media,” Tan says.

“[Government] messaging can at instances be drowned out by the immense flood of other perspectives and narratives a single can quickly come across on social media and on the online. When you are faced with so a lot of diverse narratives and you do not have a powerful level of trust current in extra trustworthy sources, you can quickly get lost.

“A single essential issue that has been identified by researchers to shape the levels of trust that men and women hold is consistency in messaging.”

Holistic measures

ROSA’s title begs the query of how to define ‘ageing successfully’.

“I feel an vital dimension of aging effectively includes remaining effectively-integrated inside your neighborhood even in later life,” Tan says. “This does not just consist of maintaining in touch with close friends and household, but ought to also consist of getting capable to contribute meaningfully to your neighborhood in some way.

“I feel that we all want to really feel we are portion of some thing bigger than ourselves [and] we want to really feel valued by our communities. If we can support extra older adults come across meaningful approaches to participate in their communities, I feel we will go a lengthy way in assisting extra men and women age effectively.”

In a ROSA short co-authored by Tan, wellbeing amongst older adults functions as a desirable outcome. How can such a broad, even amorphous term as wellbeing be quantified as a study subject?

“This is a excellent query but is a single that sadly does not have a fantastic answer (but),” Tan says. “ROSA’s main aim is to create a holistic measure of wellbeing for older adults that can be operationalised and utilised in Singapore as, presently, no such measure exists.

“At ROSA, we spend focus to 4 main dimensions of wellbeing – financial, psychological, social and mental – and we are striving to make a holistic measure of wellbeing that can span all 4 dimensions.”

The exact same short highlights financial expectations as an indicator of older adult wellbeing for the duration of a financially difficult period.

“Study has discovered that men and women are generally conscious of their personal economic conditions and are extra capable to estimate how a lot they will be impacted by a certain economic challenge, relative to crude estimates at the population level.

“Becoming negatively impacted by a economic challenge will surely have adverse impacts on other elements of wellbeing, such as experiencing poorer mental overall health due to the tension of not obtaining sufficient.”

Wellness outcomes

Increasing price of living pressures is a worldwide problem. The newest in a series of ROSA briefs focuses on its effect on older Singaporeans.

“We have discovered that healthcare is a essential concern for older adults, and for fantastic cause. We interviewed our respondents to attempt to get an notion of why this was so, and a lot of of our respondents saw a adverse overall health shock as a single of the couple of life events that could potentially wipe out all of their savings for retirement,” Tan says.

“This is due to the immense expenses that could be incurred if a single have been to be diagnosed with, for instance, cancer. Expenses for treating such a situation can be intense even with overall health insurance coverage, and could financially cripple an individual even if they had attempted their very best to prepare for such a situation.

“For this cause, a lot of older adults that we have spoken to have pointed out how they are most afraid of such an occasion taking place, and generally cite healthcare as a essential economic concern.”

In its summary, the short recommends targeted help for these experiencing extra serious economic troubles, such as older adults with low socioeconomic status, as effectively as these who are unemployed, laid off, or on sick leave. Monetary help desires to concentrate on offering for necessities – utilities, groceries and healthcare desires – as respondents have been most concerned about the affordability of such things. And the government desires efficient communication of its mitigation measures.

Tan proposes that his subsequent project will also be concerned with overall health difficulties.

“I am becoming extra interested in researching life course things that shape overall health outcomes amongst older adults. Especially, seeking at how circumstances in early life can shape overall health in later life,” he says.

“Research have shown that exposure to stressful environments in early life can have lasting and permanent effects on your physiology that make you extra vulnerable to particular overall health circumstances in later life.”


Singapore Management University

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