PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 October, 2007, 12:00am

Can more be done to help the elderly stay active?

I support the new pilot scheme funded by the Elderly Commission ('Academies for retirees launched', October 4). According to recent research, the happiness index of the elderly has been decreasing continuously over the past few decades.

I think the main reason for this is that many of them do not have the chance to stay active in society. As a consequence, some may suffer from psychological problems and, in extreme cases, commit suicide. The younger generation must not ignore this problem.

Campaigns such as the academies can help improve matters. Voluntary organisations could also arrange classes for the elderly, such as tai chi, cooking and computer skills. Such activities could help keep retirees healthy.

Also, the classes would give them the chance to talk to and get to know other people and form relationships. Human contact is so important.

We also need more community centres in Hong Kong, especially in old districts like Sham Shui Po and Kowloon City. Pensioners would be able to spend time there and the centres could organise activities like picnics and celebrations during festivals. I have worked as a helper at such activities and I know elderly people enjoy them.

The government could advertise these activities so more people attended. And it could provide subsidies so old people would not have to worry about the costs of attending.

Transport companies should extend any existing discounts (for example, KMB has a weekend discount for pensioners) so the elderly would be more willing to go out instead of staying at home alone.

Natalie Ho Sin-wa, Sham Shui Po

How can swimming safety be improved?

Although there were red flags up last weekend during the stormy weather and swimmers were given verbal warnings about the rough conditions, some of them still went into the sea.

In future, the police should be sent to beaches to explain the situation clearly to people and ask them to leave. Police officers have more authority than lifeguards, so people are more likely to listen to them.

Another problem is that there are not enough lifeguards patrolling our beaches. They have to patrol a large area of a beach, making their job more difficult.

The government should train more lifeguards and encourage more people to take lifeguard and first-aid courses.

Chan Ching, To Kwa Wan