Enjoying My Neighbourhood

Enjoying My Neighbourhood

Caption: Mr Ramakrishnan (left) with THC's therapy assistant Ms Audrey Tan (right) at the Geylang Bahru neighbourhood

Mr Ramakrishnan, 69, is someone who loves the outdoors and enjoys meeting people. In his younger days, he would run up to three times a week to stay fit. He would also frequent the coffeeshop downstairs to meet friends, relax at the park and buy groceries.

So when the then 55-year-old security guard collapsed at his work site one morning, his life was never the same. Not being able to walk was the last thing he expected. Mr Ramakrishnan had suffered a stroke. His body felt weak and he could hardly lift his hands and legs. He became depressed as he laid helpless in a community hospital for three months. He was discharged after his condition improved.

A few years later, Mr Ramakrishnan moved to his new home in Geylang Bahru. By then his body had started to weaken due to repeated falls. The staff at TOUCH Seniors Activity Centre (TSAC) at his next block had noticed his absence and went to check on him. Mr Ramakrishnan was then referred to TOUCH Home Care (THC) in 2007 for home rehabilitation support. TOUCH also took care of his meals, transport for medical appointments and housekeeping needs. A nurse would also come by to check on his medication, monitor his blood pressure and heart rate, and at times help him with his insulin jabs.

Being fiercely independent, Mr Ramakrishnan was determined to regain his mobility. THC’s physiotherapist taught him strength training exercises. When outdoors, he learnt how to use railings and structures to support himself. Soon, Mr Ramakrishnan was able to get out of the home with the help of his quad stick and regain his independence.

However, a second fall in 2015 dashed his confidence. THC’s physiotherapist assessed Mr Ramakrishnan’s recovery potential and worked with him on his goals. It took a lot of persuasion as he would complain the exercises were too hard. There was another challenge: the home was infested with bed bugs.

The physiotherapist did strength training with Mr Ramakrishnan by climbing stairs and walking longer distances to increase his endurance. He also learnt to negotiate kerbs and ramps, and practised techniques to improve his balance. He was also taught the correct way of carrying his grocery bag while holding his quad stick. Together, they tried out the shortest routes, identified rest stops and explored exercise corners. Despite frequent stomach pains, Mr Ramakrishnan persevered in his training efforts.  Within a few months, he was able to walk steadily on his own.

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Caption: Mr Ramakrishnan (left) enjoying a fun game with centre staff Mr Richard Chia (middle) and seniors from TSAC (Geylang Bahru)

With the setting up of TOUCH Senior Cluster Support (Kallang) and Care Close to Home two years ago, Mr Ramakrishnan’s needs were better supported. He also joined other seniors to participate in outings sponsored by TSAC’s volunteers. Early this year, TSAC’s community partners were once again roped in to spring clean and fumigate his home to get rid of the bed bugs.

From feeling helpless at home, Mr Ramakrishnan can now get out of his home to resume his activities. With his new found confidence, he has also started to encourage other seniors to exercise.

“I’ve spent a decade in Geylang Bahru. This is like ‘heaven’ to me! I am so happy to see people enjoying food at the coffeeshop, children running around the playground, and the friendly shopkeepers and hawkers. This is my home,” said Mr Raman beaming with joy.