Caption: Mr Loh Puek Hng (right) with his daughter and caregiver Ms Loh Sok Huan (left) at home
“My father has progressed from being tube fed and bedbound to being able to move around independently at home, and eating his favourite curry fish head! I am really thankful to have the strong support from the TOUCH team! I hope other caregivers can reach out for help too.”
Ms Loh Sok Huan, 51, became a caregiver overnight after her father, Mr Loh Puek Hng, 85, had to go for surgery in February this year due to a gall bladder inflammation. Unexpectedly, he had to spend one and a half months in a hospital to undergo rehabilitation. During that time, Mr Loh became bedbound and could not adjust to his new environment, leaving him feeling frustrated and depressed. He also started losing weight due to his decreased appetite.
Working as a hawker who owned a duck rice stall in Telok Blangah for 40 years, Mr Loh leads an active social life. He has many friends and enjoys travelling to China to do mountain climbing. He only retired when he was 71 years old after experiencing some heart issues. Even then, he was still able to meet his friends regularly. All seemed fine.
Support from family and community
“We were not prepared for my dad’s frail state after his surgery. It affected him a lot. He could not accept the changes to his body as he is by nature an outgoing person. Seeing him not having the motivation to do anything was hard. The most difficult part was hearing the news from the doctor that my dad would have to be tube fed for a long time,” said Ms Loh.
As Mr Loh could not eat, a Nasogastric Tube (NGT) had to be inserted from the nostril into his stomach. Being new to NGT, Ms Loh tried to learn as much as she could from the hospital nurses. She was stressed.
After Mr Loh was discharged from the hospital, TOUCH Home Care (THC) was roped in to support him at home. “At that time, I was worried. My mother works during the day so there’s no one at home to care for him. After discussing with my family and with the full support of my husband, I decided to move in with my parents to help them through this transition,” said Ms Loh.
As Mr Loh could not move most parts of his body, his daughter struggled to transfer him from the bed to the wheelchair. She was also afraid of helping her dad sit up in bed as he could not support his body and would feel giddy. She was also afraid of falls as his muscles were weak. It was also a challenge going for hospital appointments as she had to call an ambulance due to his immobile state.
On the road to recovery
THC’s nurse guided Ms Loh whenever she had problems tube feeding her father. After getting to know Mr Loh and his wishes, THC’s occupational therapist worked with him to set simple goals. Step by step, Mr Loh learnt to sit up confidently on his own and take small steps. Ms Loh was also taught how to manage wheelchair transfers safely. She would diligently take notes and try out the techniques. As Mr Loh has falls risks, THC’s physiotherapist also worked with him to strengthen his leg muscles and encouraged him to do stand and sit exercises whenever he watches his favourite television programmes.
Caption: A radiant Mr Loh (left) with THC nurse Ms Shaqila Bte Ishak
Caption: Physiotherapist Ms Joan Muk (left) teaching Mr Loh (right) leg exercises
Caption: Occupational therapist Ms Tee Si En (right) helping Mr Loh (left) to regain his mobility
“I enjoy the company of the TOUCH staff. They help me a lot. I always follow their instructions to get better. My family has been so supportive too – my dedicated wife and my two filial children always tell me not to give up!” said Mr Loh.
“My father has progressed from being tube fed and bedbound to being able to move around independently at home, and eating his favourite curry fish head! I am really thankful to have the strong support from the TOUCH team! I hope other caregivers can reach out for help too,” added Ms Loh.
For enquiries on elderly or caregiver-related issues, please call TOUCH Care Line at 6804 6555 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 6.00pm).