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Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

Singapore

Tailoring info to suit senior citizens

The Straits Times | Charissa Yong | Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

There is a certain art to telling senior citizens about the Pioneer Generation Package, said the two leaders of the task force handling its communication.

The process of informing and explaining the package to them needs to be tailored to suit their needs, such as producing brochures in larger font sizes and non-English languages.

Messages will also have to be simple and in bite-size form to avoid an overload of information, said Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo yesterday at a media conference.

She and Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor are chairing the task force.

For example, the word "subsidy" is not something many seniors are familiar with, said Mrs Teo. Often, they understand "discount" better, she added. "It's things like that; paying attention to what gets through to the pioneers. Otherwise, we'll be merrily thinking that we've explained, we've told them about subsidies, but... they don't know."

Both Mrs Teo and Dr Khor were laying out the challenges of explaining details of the package to about 450,000 pioneers aged 65 and older this year.

Experts on ageing have noted that many pioneers did not have much formal education.

One in four of them do not use print and online resources, which is why more television and radio channels will be used to get the message across, said Mrs Teo.

But she added that as 70 per cent of pioneers live in a multi- generational household, their family members can also help to tell them about the pioneer package.

Another challenge is the short memory of some pioneers, said Dr Khor. To overcome it, messages will be repeated in different settings, including the possibility of delivering them at getai performances, as was done at one such show in Hougang on April 13.

By June, all in the pioneer generation will receive a letter informing them that they are eligible for the benefits. They will also get a pioneer generation card by September which they can start using at polyclinics. "It works better because the elders will ask each other, have you got your card? They will show it to each other. That's a way to help them remember," said Mrs Teo.

Ms Lee Bee Wah, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, told The Straits Times that it was good to engage the pioneers in dialect, "the medium many are most familiar with". But, she added, it was a shame that seniors no longer have a dedicated radio station they can turn to for news in Chinese dialect.

charyong@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 22 in The Straits Times.

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