Successful ageing in Singapore: Prevalence and correlates from a national survey of older adults

Mythily Subramaniam, Edimansyah Abdin, Janhavi A. Vaingankar, Rajeswari Sambasivam, Esmond Seow, Louisa Picco, Hong Choon Chua, Rathi Mahendran, Li Ling Ng, Siow Ann Chong

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INTRODUCTION The current study aimed to estimate the overall prevalence and sociodemographic correlates of successful ageing, as defined by Rowe and Kahn, among a national sample of multiethnic adults aged 60 years and older in Singapore. METHODS Data from older adults who participated in the Well-being of the Singapore Elderly study was analysed. Successful ageing was defined with five indicators: no major diseases; no disability; high cognitive functioning; high physical functioning; and active engagement with life. RESULTS The prevalence of successful ageing was 25.4% in this older population. Older adults aged 75–84 years and ≥ 85 years had 0.3 times and 0.1 times the odds of successful ageing, respectively, than those aged 60–74 years. Compared to older adults of Chinese ethnicity, those of Malay (odds ratio [OR] 0.6) and Indian (OR 0.5) ethnicities were less likely to be associated with successful ageing. Older adults with lower education levels, who had no formal education (OR 0.2), some schooling but did not complete primary education (OR 0.4) or only primary education (OR 0.5), had lower odds of ageing successfully than those with tertiary education. CONCLUSION Older adults in Singapore tend to have much more active engagement with life as compared to their counterparts from other countries. Further research into this population is needed, both in terms of qualitative research to gain a better understanding of successful ageing from the older adult’s perspective, as well as longitudinal studies that explore behavioural determinants of successful ageing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalSingapore Medical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian
  • Multiethnic
  • Prevalence
  • Successful ageing

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