SINGAPORE (June 17): Researchers in Singapore have determined that $1,379, down to the dollar, is what an elderly person living alone would need every month to thrive in today’s Singapore. The sum covers an annual $500 holiday, budgets for one restaurant meal a month, and allows the person to buy clothes and accessories for special occasions, as well as gifts for friends.

The figure was derived from conversations with 103 people about what would be enough for a basic standard of living. For these participants, that went beyond the essential needs of housing, food and clothing, but to opportunities and access to education, employment, work-life balance and healthcare. More importantly, “it enables a sense of belonging, respect, security, and independence. It also includes choices to participate in social activities, and the freedom to engage in one’s cultural and religious practices”.

Crucially, the $1,379 figure assumes good health. It does not take into account expenses on chronic health conditions, which afflict many older people in Singapore. Also, this figure will only grow with successive generations of elderly, owing to inflation and lifestyles that are likely to be quite different from today’s.

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