Old & home alone

Old & home alone
Mr Syn Chin Kok, 83, looks out of the window from his bed. He used to sleep on the floor, until Madam Fion Phua and her team of volunteers moved a bed into his home.

Just last month, he had a fall and cut his head.

Even though he bled profusely, all Mr Syn Chin Kok, 83, did was to use a towel to staunch the flow of blood.

That is just one of the things he has had to do because he is old and lives alone, notes the thin man with a wan smile.

When The New Paper on Sunday visited Mr Syn, we stumbled upon another old neighbour who was bleeding from his foot. He had trouble bending to reach the limb so this reporter helped him apply a band-aid.

Early last week, the Singapore Civil Defence Force hacked through the ceiling of a toilet after an 82-year-old man had his arm trapped down a pipe.

Mr Mohd Ani Mohd, who lives alone, had stuck his left arm down a shower drain to retrieve an object in the middle of the night. He wasn't found for 13 hours until his son came by with some food.

A 2009 survey by the then Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports showed that there were an estimated 35,000 elderly people living alone.

This is expected to rise to 61,000 in 2020, and 83,000 in 2030.

Mr Syn has been living on his own since his mother died in 2006. He has no siblings and has never been married.

He does have cousins, but they hardly visit. They have given him a flat-screen television, which sits in stark contrast to the rest of his utilitarian one-room flat in the Chinatown area.

There is a bed, a desk where he keeps an altar to his late mother, and a collection of his treasures: Two large, old and rusty speakers lie against a wall. A collection of old vinyl Chinese records stacked on the floor.

"My favourite singers," he says in Cantonese, gesturing to the vinyls. But he cannot recall when he last played them.

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