Photo of old age home resident a sobering image

Photo of old age home resident a sobering image

While shadowing caregivers at an old age home, Mr Yeo Kai Wen witnessed first-hand the many challenges that came with caring for the aged in Singapore.

At 5.30am, the caregivers at Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home are already up and about helping the elderly residents take their daily shower.

As the 25-year-old documented this for his school's photojournalism class in October, he was struck by how helpless many of the residents were.

"It really hit me emotionally. You can see in their eyes they don't know what is happening," said the undergraduate of Nanyang Technological University's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.

"At the end of the day, a lot of us will end up like that. There will come a time when we are simply not able to take care of ourselves."

Of the many photos he took over two months to show how the elderly in Singapore are being taken care of by caregivers, Mr Yeo sent in this picture for last week's Big Picture contest, a year-long competition organised by The New Paper and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth to encourage Singaporeans to document everyday life in the city.

The theme, Silver Singapore, looks at how the city and its residents are ageing.


"When I first approached this project, I thought it was just another photo essay where you document how happy a home is, and how the elderly are well taken care of.

"But there are actually a lot of struggles, and through this picture you can see it's not all bright and cheery," he said.

His photo was picked by two of the three Big Picture judges as the $500 prize winner.

Ms Neo Xiaobin praised the sensitive and subtle photograph, as well as its focused composition.

"It's a powerful image that is very real, sad and slightly disturbing at the same time.

"Looking at the image and then reading the caption, I feel like an intruder to a private moment," she said.

The photo also impressed Mr Ted Chen, who gave the "haunting image" top marks for conveying a quiet and unseen moment.

"The composition is loose and minimalistic," he said.

Last week's third judge, Mr Chow Chee Yong, had a different winner. He picked Mr Ahmad Iskander Abdullah's picture of an elderly man pushing a trolley up a ramp.

To see Mr Ahmad's photo as well as last week's other finalists, visit The Big Picture's website at


Neo Xiaobin, 31, has been a photojournalist with The Straits Times since April 2010. She joined MyPaper in 2007 after graduating from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information as a journalism major. She believes that good photojournalism has the ability to move and connect people.

Ted Chen, 29, is a portrait and editorial photographer. A former photojournalist with The Straits Times, he does documentary work and holds a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Chow Chee Yong, 44, is a senior lecturer teaching photography in Temasek Polytechnic. His works have been featured in international publications such as Passages North (USA) and OP Editions (Hong Kong), and are part of various permanent collections, including the National Museum of Singapore and Kiyosato Musem of Photographic Arts in Japan.


Continue sending us photos for Silver Singapore this week. Show us how the city's landscape, communities and people are aging and stand to win $500. The deadline is midnight, this Thursday.

From Friday, our new contest theme is Future Ready SG, where we look at how the city and its people are preparing for the future.

To find out the latest contest updates and see photos of all the finalists and winners for the Big Picture, visit our website, or like our Facebook page,

This article was first published on Nov 11, 2014.
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