Old and home alone: 'I can take care of myself'

Old and home alone: 'I can take care of myself'
Despite losing the use of his legs, Mr Neo Chuan Beng is still fiercely independent and insists on living alone. He can perform simple tasks like boiling water.

SINGAPORE - There is a stench in the slightly cluttered one-room rental flat of Mr Neo Chuan Beng, 62.

The wheelchair-bound man had kept us outside the flat for 5 minutes, hollering in Hokkien from the flat that he had to do his business.

As soon as we entered the flat last Thursday, Mr Neo turned on a small, old fan - and the smell disappeared after a while.

Mr Neo is unable to use the toilet, relying on diapers and a portable toilet, which he wraps with plastic bags to be disposed.

He is unable to take a bath on his own and pays $4.20 each time for a cleaning up service twice a week.

Mr Neo, who moves around in an electric wheelchair, he has been living in the same flat at Beach Road for more than 40 years. He has been living alone for 26 years after his mother died.

He is one of 800 elderly residents under the watchful care of Peace Connect, a voluntary organisation located near his flat.

The plight of seniors who live alone came under the spotlight after an 82-year-man who was living alone had his arm stuck in a pipe for more than 12 hours before he was discovered by his son.

But Mr Neo, who lost the use of his legs about 10 years ago, told The New Paper that he prefers to live alone.

"If I live with someone else, there might be conflict.

It's very hard to say what they will do to you.

They could kick you or even kill you.

"I will just be extra careful since I'm alone. I keep all my things within reach so that I wouldn't need help from others," he said in Hokkien.

The youngest in a family of four children, Mr Neo keeps in touch only occasionally with a brother.

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