In Singapore, the term ‘ageing population‘ is not new, but the pace at which our population is ageing may surprise you. In just a decade, from 2010 to 2020, the proportion of Singaporeans aged 65 and above increased from one in 10 to one in six citizens. Looking ahead to 2030, this figure is projected to rise to nearly 1 in 4.
This rapid demographic shift has big implications for healthcare and eldercare services. As our elderly population grows, so does the demand for specialised care services. Coupled with the high cost of living, inflation, and the challenges faced by the “sandwich generation,” honouring the cherished tradition of filial piety and caring for your parents as they age presents significant financial considerations.
The price of filial piety
Embracing filial piety means shouldering various financial responsibilities that come with taking care of elderly parents. These include:
1. Monthly allowance
Providing a monthly allowance for your elderly parents to cover their expenses, especially if they are retired, can be substantial. On average, this may include:
- Food: An estimated monthly food budget can range from S$300 to S$800 per parent, depending on dietary preferences and health considerations. For example, if you choose to eat out for the month, the total average cost of three meals a day in hawker centres, food courts and coffee shops is estimated to be at S$16.89, and the average cost of eating out for a month of 30 days is around S$506.70.
- Transportation: Public transport expenses can amount to approximately S$100 to S$200 monthly, factoring in fares and occasional taxi rides. If your parents travel frequently, you may want to get a monthly travel pass to cap their public transport expenses.
- Personal needs: Personal care items, toiletries, and miscellaneous expenses may add another S$100 to S$200 per month.
Therefore, a conservative estimate for a monthly allowance could range from S$600 to S$1,200 per parent, if he or she is fully dependent on you alone for financial support.
2. Medical fees
Ensuring your elderly parents receive proper medical care is a top priority. Medical expenses may include:
- Regular check-ups: Routine check-ups with a general practitioner can cost from S$30 to S$60 per visit, and several visits can be expected a year.
- Specialist consultations: Seeing specialists for specific health conditions may incur higher costs, ranging from S$80 to S$200 per consultation.
- Hospitalisation costs: In the event of hospitalisation, bills can escalate significantly, with a single stay potentially costing thousands of dollars.
Annual medical expenses can vary widely but may average between S$1,000 to S$3,000 per parent or more, depending on their health and medical needs.
3. Medicine and supplements
Over time, the cost of prescription medications and health supplements can accumulate. The monthly cost for medications alone may range from S$50 to S$200 or more, depending on the complexity and number of prescriptions. Health supplements, if recommended, could add an additional S$50 to S$150 or more per month.
4. Other costs
Beyond the basics, caring for elderly parents involves additional expenses. For instance, consider holiday costs, ranging from budget-friendly jaunts to more expensive and longer vacations. Investing in enrichment classes like singing or dance classes or wellness programmes helps enhances their quality of life but also come with a price tag.
Tip: Check out your community centres for affordable (or even free) enrichment classes! Plus, it’s a fantastic opportunity for your parents to connect with kindred spirits right in the neighbourhood.
Taking these numbers into account, caring for elderly parents in Singapore can potentially reach S$9,500 to S$21,600 or more per parent annually. Do note that these estimates may vary based on individual circumstances, healthcare needs, and lifestyle choices.
Types of elderly care services
Singapore offers a range of elderly care options to cater to different needs. Each form of care comes with its own price tag, including:
1. Home care
This option allows your elderly parents to receive care within the comfort of their own home. Costs can vary based on the level of care required. Here are a few examples:
- Basic companionship: For companionship and light assistance, you might hire a caregiver at an hourly rate of S$20 to S$30.
- Personal care and health monitoring: If your parents require help with activities of daily living, such as bathing and medication management, costs can range from S$2,000 to S$3,500 per month.
- Live-in care: For round-the-clock care, live-in caregivers might charge around S$3,000 to S$4,500 per month.
Good news for those who opt for home care — starting October 2023, you’ll have the option to use your MediSave account to cover the costs of home-based medical and nursing services.
2. Assisted living
This option is designed to cater to seniors who are dependent on help to be able to maintain independent living, but still cognitively capable and autonomous enough to benefit from the social care that may not be a priority in a nursing home.
For example, St Bernadette Lifestyle Village charges about S$4,600 to S$5,800 per month, depending on location and room type; Red Crowns Senior Living charges about S$2,900 to S$6,300 per month, depending on location and caregiving service.
3. Nursing homes
Residential care facilities offer 24/7 professional care. Costs depend on the facility’s quality and services:
- Government-subsidised homes: These can cost as low as S$1,000 per month, but availability may be limited.
- Private nursing homes: High-end facilities can charge S$4,000 to S$6,000 per month, while mid-range homes might be around S$2,000 to S$3,500 per month.
4. Day care centres
These centres provide supervised activities and care during the day. Costs can vary based on the services offered:
- Day care for healthy elderly: Prices generally range from S$20 to S$70 per day, depending on the location and amenities.
- Day care for elderly with light medical needs: The cost may increase to S$50 to S$100 per day due to the added medical support.
- Private home care nurse: Hiring a private nurse for a few hours a day can cost around S$30 to S$50 per hour.
Government initiatives and support
To address the financial challenges of elderly care, the Singaporean government has implemented several initiatives and support programs, including but not limited to:
- CareShield Life: Provides long-term financial support for severe disability, easing the financial burden on families.
- ElderShield: A national insurance scheme that offers basic coverage for disability care.
- Caregiver grants and subsidies: This includes Seniors’ Mobility And Enabling Fund, Caregivers Training Grant (CTG), Home Caregiving Grant (HCG) and Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW) Levy Concession for Aged Persons and Persons with Disabilities.
- Silver Support Scheme: This initiative provides additional financial assistance to low-income elderly citizens in the form of cash payouts to supplement their retirement income.
- Pioneer Generation Package: The package offers healthcare benefits and subsidies to Singaporeans who belong to the pioneer generation. It helps to cover medical expenses and reduce the overall cost of healthcare.
- Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS): CHAS provides subsidies for medical and dental care to lower- and middle-income Singaporeans, including the elderly, at participating clinics and dental providers.
To provide the best care for your elderly parents while managing costs, it’s crucial to learn about these government initiatives. They offer valuable support, and understanding the eligibility and application processes empowers you to make informed decisions.
Apart from tapping on these government initiatives, it is equally important to help your aged parents with their financial planning. Planning early is essential to ensure a secure and comfortable future for your ageing parents in Singapore.
In Singapore, the price of filial piety is a weighty matter. However, with government support and prudent financial planning, families can navigate this challenge, ensuring that ageing parents receive quality care without overwhelming financial strain.