Seniors band together to help stay active

Student Seah Chen Hong and retired nurse Yeo Chwee Fong visiting Madam Liew Shew Fong (second from right), 95, and her husband Chen Ko Lie, 99, at their Hougang flat.
PHOTO: Seniors band together to help stay active

SINGAPORE - Since last July, retiree Low Ngian Woo, 64, and his fellow volunteers have been organising daily breakfast sessions and other activities for about 50 seniors in Paya Lebar.

"We usually eat Teochew porridge and read the papers," said Mr Low, who used to sell vehicle spare parts. This has helped the seniors watch what they eat and given them a chance to get acquainted, he added.

The group's most popular activity is the morning exercise, when up to 200 seniors gather to work out. At least five groups of seniors here have teamed up to keep an eye on older folk who may be depressed, need help, want to get active or are just looking for company.

The teams are among the numerous ground-up initiatives springing up under a programme to get seniors active and engaged in the community, said the People's Association (PA), which rolled out its nationwide Wellness Programme in 2010.

Its goal is to reach out to at least half of the senior population aged 50 and above in every constituency.

So far, the programme has benefited about 310,000 seniors, or about 30 per cent of Singaporeans aged 50 and above, the PA said.

Mr Low's Paya Lebar Care Team visits the vulnerable elderly - including those who live alone or are not mobile - that the volunteers identify and befriend by working with other grassroots leaders.

The team of seven also has three retired nurses, including Madam Yeo Chwee Fong, 70, who help to do simple health checks such as taking blood pressure readings. On Tuesday, she and other volunteers visited Madam Liew Shew Fong, 95, at her four-room Hougang flat.

Second-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic students, including 18-year-old Seah Chen Hong, were there under a partnership with the care team. He said: "I learnt from Madam Liew that being happy is the key to living a long life. That is something our generation does not focus on."

Madam Yeo also advised Madam Liew's new maid to keep the flat tidy so she and her husband, Mr Chen Ko Lie, 99, do not trip over stray objects. Madam Liew said: "I know everyone is busy, but I appreciate that they think of me and come to visit."

jianxuan@sph.com.sg

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