Wheelchair-bound man no longer left on his own

SINGAPORE - Being in a wheelchair for the past seven years has confined Mr Tan Ah Kiat, 60, to his home, alone, for most of the time.

The retiree, who has Parkinson's disease, relies on his 58-year-old wife to cook, bathe and take care of him every day.

Yet his wife is often worried about leaving him alone at home when she and their son go to work, said Mr Tan.

"There is no one to take care of me when I'm alone at home," he said in Mandarin.

The couple live in a three-room HDB flat in Whampoa with their 36-year-old son, an odd-job worker.

Ten weeks ago, his family's fears were realised when Mr Tan fell in the toilet after his legs "suddenly turned to jelly".

The fall landed him at Tan Tock Seng Hospital for more than two months.

Doctors there advised him to enrol in the Singapore Programme for Integrated Care for the Elderly (Spice) for rehabilitation.

Mr Tan started going to the Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens last week and is pleased with the service.

From Monday to Friday, he is picked up at 8am and taken home at 5pm. At the Spice centre, he is put through physical therapy exercises, interacts with other elderly people and gets a shower.

"With someone taking care of me, my family doesn't have to fret too much," he said. "They can concentrate on their work."

All three meals are provided, which helps to take a load off his wife, said Mr Tan.

Usually, his wife has to prepare a meal for him each morning, before going to her part-time job.

She would pick up where she left off, cooking and caring for him after returning home in the afternoon.

Mr Tan liked the idea of being able to go home every day. "If I were to be admitted into a nursing home, then the chances of me going home would be zero," he said.


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