• Wed. May 31st, 2023

Enhancing wellness outcomes and wellbeing of older adults


May 26, 2023

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 Investigation on Effective Ageing (ROSA) at Singapore Management University (SMU). For his collaborative function at ROSA, Tan was recognized with an inaugural 2022 Investigation Employees Excellence Award.

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

Micah Tan, Associate Researcher, Centre for Investigation on Effective Ageing (ROSA), Singapore Management University

Tan was drawn to a study profession via his interest in people today.

“From a young age I loved to interact with people today and to find out additional about unique cultures, and I located that conducting social science study was an excellent way for me to place this interest to excellent use,” he says.

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

“Considerably of my motivation for wanting to conduct study associated to older adults comes from my personal private experiences,” he says. “Increasing up, I watched my personal parents go via the transition from operating complete-time to retirement and it created me believe about what that transition meant and what life should really be like in retirement.

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

Constant messaging

A paper co-authored by Tan, which caught the eye of the Awards panel, was written throughout the early days of the COVID pandemic and identified that a crucial 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 located that a significant majority of Singaporeans did nevertheless have higher trust in the government all through the pandemic. Having said that, for the couple of that did not, I believe one particular crucial aspect that may well 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 one particular can quickly discover on social media and on the web. When you are faced with so lots of unique narratives and you never have a powerful level of trust current in additional reputable sources, you can quickly get lost.

“A single crucial aspect that has been identified by researchers to shape the levels of trust that people today hold is consistency in messaging.”

Holistic measures

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

“I believe an crucial dimension of aging effectively requires remaining nicely-integrated inside your neighborhood even in later life,” Tan says. “This does not just consist of maintaining in touch with buddies and household, but should really also consist of becoming capable to contribute meaningfully to your neighborhood in some way.

“I believe that we all want to really feel we are aspect of anything bigger than ourselves [and] we want to really feel valued by our communities. If we can assistance additional older adults discover meaningful methods to participate in their communities, I believe we will go a lengthy way in assisting additional people today 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 fantastic query but is one particular that regrettably does not have a excellent answer (but),” Tan says. “ROSA’s principal aim is to create a holistic measure of wellbeing for older adults that can be operationalised and utilized in Singapore as, presently, no such measure exists.

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

The identical short highlights financial expectations as an indicator of older adult wellbeing throughout a financially difficult period.

“Investigation has located that people today are normally conscious of their personal monetary circumstances and are additional capable to estimate how a great deal they will be impacted by a unique monetary challenge, relative to crude estimates at the population level.

“Becoming negatively impacted by a monetary challenge will definitely have damaging impacts on other elements of wellbeing, such as experiencing poorer mental wellness due to the anxiety of not possessing sufficient.”

Well being outcomes

Increasing expense of living pressures is a worldwide situation. The most up-to-date in a series of ROSA briefs focuses on its influence on older Singaporeans.

“We have located that healthcare is a crucial concern for older adults, and for excellent purpose. We interviewed our respondents to attempt to get an notion of why this was so, and lots of of our respondents saw a damaging wellness shock as one particular 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 charges that could be incurred if one particular had been to be diagnosed with, for instance, cancer. Expenses for treating such a situation can be intense even with wellness insurance coverage, and could financially cripple a person even if they had attempted their greatest to prepare for such a situation.

“For this purpose, lots of older adults that we have spoken to have described how they are most afraid of such an occasion taking place, and normally cite healthcare as a crucial monetary concern.”

In its summary, the short recommends targeted assistance for these experiencing additional extreme monetary troubles, such as older adults with low socioeconomic status, as nicely as these who are unemployed, laid off, or on sick leave. Monetary assistance requirements to concentrate on offering for necessities – utilities, groceries and healthcare requirements – as respondents had been most concerned about the affordability of such things. And the government requirements helpful communication of its mitigation measures.

Tan proposes that his subsequent project will also be concerned with wellness troubles.

“I am becoming additional interested in researching life course components that shape wellness outcomes amongst older adults. Particularly, searching at how situations in early life can shape wellness 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 additional vulnerable to particular wellness situations in later life.”


Singapore Management University