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Prof. Reshma A. Merchant

Head Div of Geriatric Medicine, Dept of Medicine

A/Prof Merchant is a strong advocate for ageing in place and recognized as a thought expert in frailty and healthy ageing internationally.


In addition to being head of division, Associate Professor Reshma A Merchant is also the Geriatric Education Director for Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS. She graduated from the University of Edinburgh and obtained her postgraduate qualification from Royal College of Physician London in 1999 where she worked for several years before returning to Singapore in 2001. She is currently a Fellow of Academy of Medicine Singapore and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh. She was the head of division for Advanced Internal Medicine for 7 years before September 2016 and under her leadership, the division has made great progress in care integration, care coordination and now looking at using data and technology as an enabler to improve productivity, quality and accessibility. She is actively involved in improving quality of care for hospitalised seniors, and together with nursing team have introduced Eldercare Bundle hospital-wide. She also holds many leadership positions in national professional organisations and advisory boards including National Kidney Foundation. Her research is primarily focused on healthy ageing, frailty and sarcopenia. She is the lead for the Healthy Ageing Promotion Program for You (HAPPY), a peer-led dual-task exercise program in more than 70 different sites across Singapore. More than 250 volunteers have been trained and certified to lead the program. The program has shown to reverse frailty, improve walking speed and memory, reduce loneliness and improve quality of life. She has other ongoing research such as frailty screening in primary care and community with virtual and onsite exercise and cognitive stimulation therapy, and has developed Rapid Geriatric Assessment app which is available for download on iphone and ipad. She is also leading the falls prevention program in the western region. She is well published in this field and recognised as thought expert in frailty and sarcopenia both locally and internationally. Besides clinical service and research, she is also a very enthusiastic teacher and has won multiple teaching awards.


Older adults with metabolic syndrome are at a higher risk of becoming frail, impacting their quality of life
National University of Singapore, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

April 07, 2021

Research findings from the Healthy Older People Everyday (HOPE) study revealed that frailty greatly diminishes the quality of life in older adults with metabolic syndrome, which highlights the urgent need to put in place screening interventions to detect frailty early as frailty may be reversible. The study led by Associate Professor Reshma Merchant, from the Department of Medicine at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and her team discovered that frailty may be responsible for the various debilitating outcomes of metabolic syndrome such as cognitive impairment, depression and functional decline which results in a poorer quality of life.

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NUS study links hand grip strength to metabolic disease in Singapore elderly
National University of Singapore, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

August 24, 2020

The participants are part of a subgroup of the Healthy Older People Everyday (HOPE) study of the Singapore Population Health Studies – Community Health Study. Published by Associate Professor Reshma Merchant from the NUS Medicine Department of Medicine and Head & Senior Consultant of the Division of Geriatric Medicine, National University Hospital, this is the first study which looks at the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in older adults in Singapore. “Metabolic syndrome is not just an issue for older adults and prevention must begin very early,” said Assoc Prof Merchant.

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A HAPPYer you
Ageless Online

July 09, 2019

Shared Associate Professor Reshma Merchant who leads the programme, and is the head and senior consultant, Division of Geriatric Medicine, National University Hospital (NUS): “The good news is that Singaporeans are living longer. But we also want to enable Singaporeans to live better. Frailty and memory decline, in particular are two aspects of ageing that are reversible.” Another aspect of HAPPY is that the programme encourages seniors to volunteer and contribute back as trainers leading the exercise, and sharing health and nutritional tips with participants.

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Spreading Happy-ness: Seniors' exercise programme is fighting frailty
The Straights Times

July 09, 2019

The programme also seeks to get seniors to take charge of their health, such as by teaching them to take their own blood pressure and pulse. "Frailty and memory decline, in particular, are two aspects of ageing that are reversible. Our data from Happy show that older adults who participate in the multi-domain programme and are physically and mentally engaged have better outcomes in both of these areas," said Associate Professor Reshma Merchant, who leads the programme. She also heads the Division of Geriatric Medicine at the National University Hospital.

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Happy hour helps seniors delay frailty and disability
The Straights Times

August 24, 2017

Frailty is characterised by reduced strength, endurance and physiological function, an increased vulnerability to stress and falls, and health issues such as disability, as well as memory problems. "As the magnitude of pre-frailty and frailty increases, the prevalence of chronic health conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, goes up," said Associate Professor Reshma Merchant, who heads the programme and was one of the study's researchers. In the study, a significantly larger proportion of frail participants had two or more chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and stroke, compared with pre-frail and robust participants.

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Association of central obesity and high body mass index with function and cognition in older adults
Endocrine Connections

2021Objective: To investigate the association of normal body mass index (BMI) with central obesity (CO), high BMI with CO, high BMI without CO, and normal BMI without CO, with function and cognition in older adults. Methods: Cross-sectional study involving 754 participants ≥ 65 years. Data collected include demographics, cognition and physical measurements.

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Prevalence of Anemia and Its Association with Frailty, Physical Function and Cognition in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Findings from the HOPE Study
The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging

2021Objectives: The prevalence of anemia and its impact on frailty and physical function amongst the multiethnic older populations in the Southeast Asian (SEA) countries are often not well studied. Singapore, a nation comprised of multiethnic communities, is one of the most rapidly aging population globally. We aim to evaluate the prevalence of anemia and its impact on frailty, and physical function in Healthy Older People Everyday (HOPE)- an epidemiologic population-based study on community-dwelling older adults in Singapore.

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Frailty and Quality of Life in Older Adults with Metabolic Syndrome - Findings from the Healthy Older People Everyday (HOPE) Study
The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging

2021Objectives: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) and frailty are both associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Frailty is associated with reduced quality of life (QoL) but association of QoL with MetS have produced mixed results suggesting that other factors such as disease burden, obesity and depression may have a more significant influence. We aim to investigate the demographics of frail participants with MetS, and relationship between frailty and QoL in MetS.

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Possible Sarcopenia and Impact of Dual-Task Exercise on Gait Speed, Handgrip Strength, Falls, and Perceived Health
Frontiers in Medicine

2021Background: Sarcopenia is defined as a progressive age-related loss in muscle mass and strength affecting physical performance. It is associated with many negative outcomes including falls, disability, cognitive decline, and mortality. Protein enriched diet and resistance training have shown to improve muscle strength and function but there is limited evidence on impact of dual-task exercise in possible sarcopenia.

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Motoric cognitive risk syndrome, physio-cognitive decline syndrome, cognitive frailty and reversibility with dual-task exercise
Experimental Gerontology

2021Introduction Cognitive frailty (CF) is associated with dementia and disability. It was initially proposed in 2013 by the International Institute of Nutrition and Aging and the International Geriatrics Association. Over the years, there have been many emerging definitions e.g., Motoric Cognitive Risk Syndrome (MCR), Physio-cognitive Decline Syndrome (PCDS), reversible CF and potentially reversible CF.

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Area of Expertise

Academic Administration

Cognitive Frailty



Healthy Ageing

Internal Medicine

Long Term Care

Long-Term Care

Population Health


Successful Ageing in the Community




Health and Wellness


Royal College of Physician London :

University of Edinburgh :

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