Date: 23 May 2019 
Time: 2.00 pm – 4.30 pm 
Address: 10 Square @ Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, Orchard Central, #10-01, Singapore 238896

Hours: 2.5 hrs

U 3rd Age (University of the Third Age) is a community of seniors coming together to share learning experiences and social-cultural values. It organises activities for seniors to achieve active ageing and have fun in later life learning. U 3rd Age also creates a platform to connect with younger generations by sharing life experiences, family values, and personal stories.

U 3rd Age is an environment where respect for life as a learning journey  making mistakes, missing opportunities, and learning to understand each other’s wisdom and cultural values. It is also the place where cafe conversations are held. It is such activities that contribute to one’s developmental learning. 

U 3rd Age believes that seniors can seek meanings in their life, through lifelong learning and social networking. It is by sharing experiences and making friends — regardless of whether they are rich, highly educated, or had held high job positions — that happy and active ageing is achieved.

Extract from U 3rd Age

U 3rd Age

U 3rd Age is a community organisation run founded in 2012 by Ms Carol Kuan and her father, Mr Thomas Kuan. The U 3rd Age team are changemakers at A Good Space. After learning about my Masters project, Carol invited me to attend one of their Seniors-Meet-Seniors (SMS) Knowledge Café as well as their upcoming Learning Journey to St. John Island. 

Knowledge Café

U 3rd Age SMS Knowledge Cafés are inspired by David Gurteen, founder of the Gurteen Knowledge Community and Knowledge Café. Every Thursday, U 3rd Age brings seniors together to share different insights and new knowledge with each other in a workshop setting. The objective is to encourage peer-led, small group learning for seniors. These knowledge cafés allow seniors to learn from each other through productive conversations and how to make better sense of living in an urban community. Occassionally, youths do turn up for the sessions as well and this becomes an intergenerational activity. 

Presentation on the effects of ageing

The topic of discussion for the day was on the effects of ageing. The 3 areas of concern were the diminishing physical abilities (declining sense of balance, loss of muscle mass and bone density, weaker joints etc.), the diminishing acuity of the senses (vision deterioration, hearing loss etc.) and the diminishing mental faculties (memory loss, loss of brain cells etc.). An important aspect presented was on the hazards seniors might face in their house (bathroom, staircase, kitchen etc.) and the dos and don’ts. 

Group Discussion

Small group discussions
My group members and I deep in conversation

For the group activity, we were split into 3 different small group. Group 1 was tasked to  to discuss on physical deficiencies, Group 2 on senses deficiencies, and Group 3 on mental deficiencies. I was assigned to Group 2. Surprisingly, many seniors from my group had issues with their senses. One of them lost his sense of smell and another was partially blind in one eye. Each seniors took turns to share about what they know and different ways we can employ to prevent these conditions from worsening. I tried my best to contribute but recalling incidents with my parents or with other seniors I have engaged with before. 

After a short discussion of 15 minutes, each group had to send a representative to consolidate all of our sharing and pointers so other groups can learn about each other’s findings as well. 

Representative from my group sharing our findings

Final Thoughts

Having drinks with Carol, Dexter and Jing Wei (left to right) after the workshop

SMS Knowledge Café is a great example of a seniors-for-seniors initiative. This is a concept that more and more governments and organisations are looking into, especially in countries facing population ageing. It is very heartening to see so many of our Singaporean seniors coming together to help other seniors. I strongly believe that there should be more of such programmes in Singapore to empower the older generation to take charge of their lives and to further improve their knowledge to live better in today’s society.

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