Setting sights on a life of empowerment

Setting sights on a life of empowerment

Caption: A radiant Adeline (left) with the THC team

Despite her struggles with poor vision, Ms Adeline Vejaletchmy has always strived to live her life to the fullest. The 62-year-old was diagnosed with visual impairment at the age of three after a bout of high fever.

Since young, Adeline was trained to take care of herself. She had to shoulder more responsibilities when her mother, who was her main caregiver, became ill.  Adeline studied in the School for the Blind before moving on to a mainstream secondary school.

In her adulthood, life was good for Adeline as she found a job as a telephone operator in an electronics company. She did well and even mentored the newer staff. With her steady job, she then bought a three room flat in Ang Mo Kio. But all that changed when her company had to close down suddenly. She was then in her 40s.

Battling depression
“I was so worried. I thought of my housing loan and all the bills I had to pay. I was helpless and felt depressed. I attempted to end my life. Thankfully, my neighbours rescued me in time. With encouragement and support, I found the courage to live on,” says Adeline.

Adeline was able to pick up the pieces to resume an active life – cooking meals, doing laundry and meeting friends. However, over the years, her eyesight deteriorated further. Now at 63, she can only see with 40% of vision on her left eye. She is completely blind on her right eye. She also became prone to falls, falling as often as twice daily.

In 2021, Adeline fell off a chair at home. She spent five hours in the wee hours of the night trying to get up. Thankfully, she managed to pull herself up and reached for her handphone to call the ambulance.

“I was so scared. I had to crawl to the door to wait for help. I was in pain and all alone,” says Adeline.

Adeline was then hospitalised for two weeks and was asked if she wanted to go to a nursing home. “The news hit me hard. I felt sad as I want to remain at home. Thankfully, the medical social worker suggested the home care option. All of a sudden, I felt there was hope,” adds Adeline.

A new lease of life
TOUCH then stepped in to help clean her home and pack her medication. TOUCH’s occupational therapist also placed visual cues on the floor so she will not fall. “After meeting the TOUCH team, I felt alive again! They are so caring. They told me not to cry when I told them my worries. They are like my buddies, always checking on me and spending time to talk to me,” says Adeline. “I also learnt how to use the commode to shower and got help packing my daily intake of 26 pills."  

Ade with HPC supv
Caption: Home Personal Care (HPC) supervisor Ms Leong Baoru (right) with Ms Adeline (left)

Ade with THC nurse
Caption: Nurse Ms Ong Wee Ying (right) interacting with Adeline (left) 

Ade's pills
Caption: Adeline needs help in packing concoction of pills due to her poor vision

Ade with HPC staff
Caption: Adeline (left) enjoying the company of HPC staff Mdm Han Ee Loo (right)

Adeline now enjoys taking public transport to do activities at a social service agency and goes to a nearby active ageing centre to meet friends. “I feel great leading an active life again. If I were to stay home, I tend to remain in bed so I will not fall. Life will have no meaning,” adds Adeline.

Her daily routine includes going to her neighbourhood coffeeshop to have her meals. During her free time, she visits her relatives and friends who live nearby.

Ade ageing well at home
Caption: With THC’s support, seniors like Adeline can live well and age well at home

“What matters to me is my independence. I want to have control over how I live my life. Now, my thoughts are positive and I just want to help others. I feel more assured of my new self and I am prepared to let go of the past, “ adds Adeline, who also reaches out to another home care client who is blind.

Story published in 2024