The power of friendships

The power of friendships

Caption: Mdm Han (middle) enjoys a strong network of support from neighbours and TOUCH staff.   

Mdm Han Kim Eng, 80, used to occupy her time with daily routine activities. Living alone with her helper in Ang Mo Kio, she had few friends in the neighbourhood. She also had mobility issues and was a wheelchair user.

All that changed when a TOUCH staff knocked at her door to invite her to attend TOUCH’s strength training sessions at a nearby void deck a few years ago. After getting to know her better, a befriender was assigned to provide psychosocial support. It took several months of persuasion before Mdm Han attended her first strength training session.

When Mdm Han realised there were other elderly wheelchair users and TOUCH’s therapists exercising alongside her, she felt more assured. With regular exercise, her legs became stronger and her stamina improved. Soon, Mdm Han was able to move around using a walking frame.

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Caption: Mdm Han looking happy and radiant.

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Caption: Mdm Han (second from left) enjoying a game of craft session with befriender Ms Violet Lim (first from left) and friends at TOUCHpoint@AM 433.

Mdm Han gradually opened up as she started making new friends, including younger residents and familiar neighbours who would greet her in the past. When her domestic helper had to return home, neighbours were mobilised to run errands and settle her meals. Mdm Han’s daughter was happy to see her mother well supported by TOUCH and the residents.

A health advocate and giver
A familiar face at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433, Mdm Han is also a health advocate and receives support from the Community Health Post at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433. She also enjoys taking part in festive celebrations with neighbours.

“TOUCH is like family to me. When I am sad, lonely or worried, I know I will not be alone. During this COVID period, I cherish these friendships even more and it’s good we are all taking care of one another,” said Mdm Han.

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Caption: Mdm Han (left) with neighbour Mdm Ko before their virtual exercise session.

Mdm Han now looks forward to meeting friends for breakfast. As a great cook, she often invites neighbours to her home for meals, sharing with them her signature kuey recipes. As a giver, she often reaches out to those in need. Seeing her 83-year-old neighbour Mdm Ko Ai Nam idling at home, she became concerned and invited her to attend the weekly virtual HAPPY Ageing Promotion Programme For You or HAPPY sessions conducted by trained coaches from TOUCH Senior Activity Centre to promote physical and mental health.

Thanks to the community of support at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433, Mdm Han now leads a healthy and fulfilling life.

Story published in 2020.