Caption: Helping seniors live happier and healthier lives
“I am still fit so I should volunteer. Seniors like us must always keep our minds active and be aware of what’s going on. We must go out, meet friends and make ourselves useful...”
As a former sailor, Mr Chua Ah Kah, 87, enjoys the outdoors, having spent a big part of his life at sea. However, over the years, he became frail and suffered from a heart condition. A few years ago, he had to undergo surgery to remove a tumour in his neck. As his health deteriorated, he became a wheelchair user, and had to be cared for by his wife, Mdm Tan Loo Geok, 81.
Before TOUCH Senior Activity Centre (TSAC) was set up at their block in Wellington two years ago, Mr Tan spent his time sitting idly at the coffeeshop while his wife ran errands and did household chores. Life was predictable.
Mr Tan was initially skeptical when centre staff knocked on his door to invite him and his wife to take part in the centre’s activities. With much persuasion, the couple started to drop by the centre every day. Soon, they became more sociable, found new friendships and volunteered their services.
Achieving a milestone
TSAC seniors were also taught how to keep themselves healthy through regular visits by the nurses from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital through the Community Nurse Post.
“I am so grateful to the centre staff for not giving up in getting me to quit smoking. It wasn’t easy. Now, I know what I must do to stay healthy. I have also stopped eating roti prata and nasi brani every day!” said Mr Tan.
Caption: Mr Chua (left) learning to check his blood pressure
Caption: Mr Chua (second from left) and Mdm Tan (third from left) enjoying the company of staff and seniors at a coffeeshop
Today, Mr Chua believes he can influence people around him to eat and live well like him – now that he has given up smoking and adopted better eating and sleeping habits.
Empowered to do more for others
For Mdm Tan Loo Geok, life is now filled with a greater sense of purpose as she reaches out to other seniors. At TSAC, she also spends her time upgrading her knowledge and skills.
Caption: A radiant Mdm Tan enjoying the fullness of life
Caption: Seniors as a resource in the community to support the needs of vulnerable seniors
Caption: Mdm Tan (right) delivering a meal pack to a neighbour (left)
“I am still fit so I should volunteer. Seniors like us must always keep our minds active and be aware of what’s going on. We must go out, meet friends and make ourselves useful. Our neighbourhood feels so vibrant now and life is not boring!” said Mdm Tan.
Through workshops conducted by TOUCH Cyber Wellness as part of Digitally Ready Seniors Programme, Mdm Tan and many other seniors were taught cyber wellness and smart phone tips.
Spreading the joy of volunteering
Roping in their children to volunteer, the couple also tapped on their contacts to provide free TCM services to the community. Their family and friends also volunteered to sing at Getai and festive events.
Seniors like Mr Chua and Mdm Tan have shown that age is just a number. Everyone can be someone to spread cheer to others.
Story published in 2021.
Updated in 2022.
Note: Mr Chua was admitted to a nursing home in 2022.