Living with dignity

Living with dignity

Caption: Mdm Song (right) posing for a candid shot with TOUCH staff Ms Tracy Lee (left).

When 86-year-old Mdm Song Ah Thai went for her right hip replacement surgery due to Osteoarthritis in September 2018, she was worried about her condition and suffered from anxiety, depression and sleepless nights. Living alone in her flat in Ang Mo Kio, Mdm Song  wondered if she could still take care of herself on her own at home.

“Thankfully, I remembered that TOUCH could help old people like me. My friend Tracy, who became my friend when she came knocking at my door one day to join TOUCH’s activities, had told me about it,” says Mdm Song.

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Caption: Mdm Song is now a regular face at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433

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Caption: Learning to embrace life's challenges with confidence

Not giving up
Mdm Song then sought help from TOUCH Home Care (THC) for further support. Due to her mobility constraints, Mdm Song received help in having her meals delivered at her doorstep, having her home cleaned, being accompanied for medical appointments and receiving home therapy to strengthen her muscles. THC’s team continued to encourage her to take small steps to regain her independence.

Meanwhile, Ms Tracy Lee, TOUCH’s coordinator for the Community Befriending Programme, continued to reach out to Mdm Song. “It took several attempts before Mdm Song felt confident to walk on her own. I could tell she really wanted to be out there and not stuck at home. She just needed a nudge and some encouragement,” says Ms Lee.

When Mdm Song finally stepped out of her home after recuperating from her surgery, she kept saying “I feel very happy!”. She was then introduced to  Ms Thang Gek Choo, 62, TOUCH volunteer and befriender, who would accompany her to the hospital for her appointments.

“Mdm Song has come a long way. In the past, she would always say that her surgery wounds have not healed. This affected her confidence as she was always thinking of the pain. But after stepping out of the home, meeting residents at TOUCHpoint and doing things together, she is smiling a lot now,” says Ms Thang.

Caption: Mdm Song (right) enjoying an activity at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433 with befriender Ms Thang.

Learning to be part of an enabled community
Every week, Mdm Song visits the Community Health Post at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433, where she is advised by the nurses from Tan Tock Seng Hospital regarding her health status. She also joins other resident befrienders who would gather with their befriendees for meals, engaging in activities and learning together.

“I was so touched when I saw Mdm Song bringing from home chopsticks for a Chinese New Year potluck gathering at TOUCHpoint. Although she could not cook, she has founds ways to contribute. She has also asked her neighbours to attend calligraphy sessions. She was also not afraid to ask questions at a recent cooking demonstration session,” says Ms Lee.  

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Caption: Mdm Song (extreme right) enjoying the company of neighbours

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Caption: Mdm Song (right) learning digital skills from a resident

During the pandemic, Mdm Song was hospitalised due to dizziness. After her discharge from the hospital, she was referred to the Day Rehabilitation Centre at  TOUCHpoint@AMK 433 to continue with therapy sessions to improve her balance and mobility. Her neighbours and friends continued to encourage her as she was constantly feeling anxious. Mdm Song is now recovering well with community support. She is also under Community Resource, Engagement and Support Team (CREST) to receive further support for mental wellness.

“I am grateful to TOUCH for giving me a chance to rediscover myself, learn new things and engage in meaningful activities with others. I am very happy!,” says Mdm Song.

Story published in 2020.
Updated in 2021.