Forum writer Cheng Shoong Tat calls for a comprehensive survey to provide a reliable picture in understanding the circumstance of elderly people working as cleaners.
This is a good suggestion.
But perhaps a better way is to make it a requirement for employers of any person age 65 and older who applies to be a cleaner to require that person to answer a confidential questionnaire on their financial circumstances and why they want to work as cleaners.
This way, we can have a better idea of who is working out of need and who is working to pass time.
This may seem intrusive but then, posting someone’s photo on social media without permission is even more intrusive.
The questionnaire will allow employers to forward to Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) those who can do with extra help.
Such a process will help to pick up those who have fallen through the cracks for lack of knowledge of social schemes to help them.
There are people who work out of a need and there are people who work because they want to stay active and escape from the boredom of staying at home.
We don’t need to deny the second category of people in order to acknowledge and help the first.
We should not take away the right of the elderly to work to stay active if they are still fit to work – even if it is cleaning work.
What we need to do is to RESPECT them for the work that they do. You can do that by acknowledging their existence, thank them for the work they do. If not for them, you would not have a clean place to enjoy your food.
Unless you organize a lot of activities to engage elderly people and draw them out of their homes, elderly who stay at home most of the time do deteriorate very fast, both mentally and physically and that is not good for them.