Thursday, November 17, 2011


Mdm Susan Low, 60, and her 90-year old father relaxing at their HDB studio apartment (Photo: ST)
Imagine this: you live alone with your elderly father. Every day when you leave for work, or step out to run some errands you worry about your father. Will he be alright on his own at home? What if he falls? When you call home, there is no answer. Your morbid imagination kicks into over-drive.

Imagine again, you come home late in the evening after work. You open the door and find the apartment in total darkness. Your heart skips several beats. You enter your father's room. He is lying in bed, not moving. You are about to switch to panic mode. You check to see if he is breathing. Yes, he is. He's only sleeping. You heave a sigh of relief and utter a silent prayer of thanks to God.

Familiar? Life can be a daily cycle of worry and stress for those of us living with and caring for an elderly parent. Getting a live-in maid or a relative to elder-sit is easier said than done.

Now thanks to government initiatives, senior citizens like Madam Susan Low, 60, can rest easy that help is literally at the door-step - at the seniors service centre at the void deck of her Housing Development Board's (HDB) Golden Jasmine studio apartment block in Bishan.

The apartments are designed with safety in mind. Besides handrails, grab bars and anti-slip tiles, each unit is installed with an emergency alarm system. All the elderly residents have to do is yank-pull the 1metre-long pull cords set up in the toilet and living room. The staff at the help centre will be alerted and will rush to the unit within five minutes. They are ready to respond to any calls for help from the elderly residents.

The Econ Health and Wellness Centre at Bishan is the first seniors help centre at HDB's studio apartments offering both free and paid services. Three more projects are coming up in Queenstown, Jurong and Ang Mo Kio.

Mdm Kong Yow Ghua, 78, who lives alone,
exercising at the gym. (ST)
The centre also provides free recreational facilities for the residents, a gym and as well as a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinic. There is a nominal fee charged for use of the gym and for TCM consultations and treatments.

Aside from the seniors help centres, there are seniors activity centres (SACs), which offer free services like therapy and counselling to residents of HDB rental blocks.

The population of Singapore is ageing rapidly. Today one in 12 Singaporeans is aged 65 and older. This figure is projected to rise to one in five in 2030. This means an increase from 300,000 people today who are aged 65+ to 900,000 by 2030.

It will be a challenge for the government to ensure that the elderly are adequately taken care of, and every consideration be given to provide assistive living for them, especially for the elderly who live alone or with one adult child already in the 50s or more.

1 comment:

home care charlotte nc said...

Great post.. improving home safety for the elderly is definitely important. Thanks for sharing!