A journey to remember

A journey to remember

Caption: Caregiver Mdm Sharon Koh (left) is happy with Isaac’s (right) progress

Mr Isaac Ng 65, used to be fit and sporty. But a motorbike accident in Malacca in July 2023 left him with brain injury that affected his cognition and memory. He struggled to identify his own family members and experienced challenges in walking and speaking clearly. He also encountered difficulties connecting with others. Once known for his chattiness and jovial demeanor, he gradually became more withdrawn and isolated, preferring solitude over initiating conversations. Isaac lives with his wife and younger son in a three-room flat in Ang Mo Kio.

Having no recollection of his past including his accident, Isaac became frustrated and discouraged. His wife Mdm Sharon Koh, 63 had to manage his day-to-day tasks including preparing his meals and toileting. Feeling no sensation in his left leg, Isaac could only walk short distances with the help of a mobility aid. He remained mostly at home as he would get lost in his neighbourhood.

Connecting the dots
After his discharge from the hospital, Isaac was referred to TOUCH Day Rehabilitation Centre at TOUCHpoint@AMK 433 for rehabilitative therapy. There he met Senior Occupational Therapist Ms Ho Xiu Ping who suggested using narrative mnemonic strategy to improve his memory. This therapy complemented his physiotherapy sessions where he was taught exercises to strengthen his leg muscles.

Isaac was also introduced to a range of creative activities designed to stimulate his mind. For example, he was taught to apply his newly learnt memory strategy in his daily activities, such as recalling new routes and doing certain tasks. He also learnt to track his future appointments by noting them down on a calendar. These activities not only helped to foster logical thinking and memory but also encouraged him to think of what he enjoys and to plan in advance.

Caption: Isaac (left) doing a memory activity with Senior Occupational Therapist Ms Ho Xiu Ping (right)

Isaac doing physiotherapy

Caption: Isaac attending a physiotherapy session

Isaac at DRC
Caption: Isaac back in good shape at TOUCH Day Rehabilitation Centre

To enhance his logic and reasoning skills, Isaac was also introduced to the memory game Sudoku. He was also tested on newspaper articles to assess his comprehension and awareness of current events.

Fulfilling his desire to ride a bicycle and go swimming, Isaac was diligent in working on his upper and lower limbs together with his physiotherapist. Thankfully, after six months of therapy, Isaac made good progress as his balance and gait improved. He was able to complete his walk from Ang Mo Kio to Toa Payoh without any difficuties. With increased confidence, he also managed to nagivate his parent’s neighbourhood with ease.

“I feel happy I can be more independent. The TOUCH staff are like family to me. They are encouraging and patient, always checking on me. If I feel any pain, I will let them know and they will modify the therapy to make it easier for me,” says Isaac.

“Before Isaac came to DRC, it was tough as I didn’t know how to help him. His good rapport with the TOUCH staff also motivated him to do his exercises. I am so delighted to see him recovering so well. He’s now able to move around more easily which makes it easier for me to care for him,” says Mdm Sharon Koh.

Strengthening relationships
Recently, Isaac and Sharon attended a five-week Seal of Life (四道人生) programme organised by TOUCHpoint@AMK 433. Seal stands for Saying Thanks, Expressing Love, Asking & Releasing Forgiveness and Letting Go / Living a Legacy.

Its goal is to support seniors in building healthy connections before they are confronted with social isolation or a realisation that they have not been leading purposeful lives. The couple enjoyed the sessions together with other residents, as they learnt simple tools to deepen existing relationships and make new ones, and reflect on their life journey.

Website shidao Isaac
Caption: Equipping skills to enhance relationships

Shidao website
Caption: TOUCH's senior counsellors Mr Chan Hon Shek and Mdm Lai Fung Ling, imparting useful skills to residents under the Seal of Life (四道人生) Programme

Story published in 2024