Caption: Mdm Saravasthy enjoying a strength training session at a void deck in Ang Mo Kio
Mdm Sarasvathy spent six years caring for her husband after he suffered a severe stroke in 2009 that left him completely bedbound and needing help 24/7. Married for 46 years then, they were inseparable.
“He was the love of my life. We did everything together as a couple. My focus then was on my husband. Thankfully my daughters all chipped in to help. We did our best to care for him,” said Mdm Saravathy. However, things got worse when dementia set in and he started to forget his loved ones. She was 67 when He passed on in 2015.
Mdm Saravathy cried herself to sleep every night and felt depressed. Whenever she thought of her husband, her eyes would well up with tears. She did not have many friends and felt a void in her life.
Caption: Mdm Saravathy looking radiant and fulfilled
A fresh perspective
One day, Mdm Saravathy received a flyer from TOUCH about a strength training session at a neighbouring void deck. Her daughters encouraged her to register. It turned out to be a life changing decision.
“Ever since I joined TOUCH’s activities, my world became bigger. I never thought I could regain my sense of purpose in life. I was learning new things, meeting new people, and lending a listening ear to residents,” said Mdm Saravathy.
Exercising twice a week, Mdm Saravathy’s stamina soon improved. Her aches went away. She could bend, squat and stretch her arms easily without feeling any pain. Her daughters were inspired by her stories of her new friends and eagerness to learn new skills.
“My mood is better too. Even my siblings were surprised to see me looking so radiant and healthy!” said Madam Saravathy beaming with a smile.
Caption: Madam Saravathy honing her photography skills with participants at a photography workshop.
Finding purpose through giving
Surrounded by friends who are volunteers, Mdm Saravathy found herself chipping in to help in whatever ways she could. From volunteering at a community health screening to delivering bread to seniors or lending a listening ear as a befriender, Mdm Saravathy grew in her compassion.
Caption: Mdm Saravathy reaching out to residents at a community health screening held in her neighbourhood
“Being helpful comes naturally to me. I am always looking out for old people who need help. Once, I saw an elderly lady in her 80s struggling with her grocery bag and quickly reached out to her. I feel so much joy when I buy biscuit and milk for an elderly resident whom I visit twice a month,” said Mdm Saravathy.
Mdm Saravathy is now in the pink of health. Her blood pressure and cholesterol level are under control. Reaping the benefits of staying fit, the health enthusiast has since invited three friends to exercise together with her.
When asked about her future plans, she said, “I have been living in Ang Mo Kio for four decades. I feel closer to my community now. My support network has helped me feel secure and confident. I do not intend to go anywhere else. This is where I will be – right to the very end.”
Story published in 2018.
Updated in 2019.