THE average longevity of Singaporeans has gone up by more than a year.
In the latest Complete Life Tables compiled by the Department of Statistics Singapore (SingStat), the data showed that someone born last year can expect to live 82 years, up from the 80.3 years for those born in 2006.
The data also showed that the average longevity of those over 65 is lengthening as well. For example, someone who was 65 last year can expect to live another 20.2 years, up from 18.9 years in 2006.
These life tables, compiled annually, are a projection, and the ones for last year are preliminary, said a SingStat report.
The report noted that the figures released yesterday 'give an indication of the average longevity of the population, but do not necessarily reflect the longevity of an individual'.
Reacting to this yesterday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who also heads the Ministerial Committee on Ageing (MCA), said: 'Living longer is a good thing, but it is equally important that we stay healthy, remain active and be engaged.
'If as a society we promote and practise active ageing, we can certainly add life to years, and not merely add years to life.'
Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State for Health, who is also on the MCA, said the longer lives Singaporeans are now living has a lot to do with better diet and lifestyle.
People are more educated and know how to look after themselves, she said.
'Advancements in medical care, and better chronic disease management, would also have contributed to the longer lifespan. All things being equal, longer lifespans should also mean more healthy years, although age itself brings ailments of its own, however meticulously a person watches his own health, though these could be delayed somewhat.'
Dr Wong Sweet Fun, a senior consultant in geriatric medicine at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, said: 'The fact that Singaporeans are living a better quality of life and looking after themselves better could have translated into the statistically longer lifespan, as compared to 2006.'
He added that it is important for the elderly not only to have a healthy diet, but also to remain physically active and engaged socially.
Mr Gan said that as people live longer, 'there is also a need to tackle issues of aged care provision and affordability'.
He added: 'If seniors in the future are proactive in managing their health, they can live long and live well.'