Old woman found dead in flat: 'There was a stench of blood'

For two days, she thought the foul smell lingering at the corridor outside her flat came from a pile of rubbish.

But on Thursday afternoon, the stench became much stronger and it seemed to come from her neighbour's flat.

"It smelled like blood that had been left in the open for a couple of days," said Madam Sharifah Noor.

The 64-year-old, who lives on the third storey of Block 641, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, went to check on her neighbour, Madam Zubaidah, who lived alone one unit away from her.

She was joined by a few other neighbours who were also concerned about the 74-year-old woman.

When Madam Zubaidah did not answer them, they suspected something was wrong.

Madam Sharifah, who regularly visited her, said: "The gate was locked, but the door wasn't, and her shoes were inside the flat, so we knew she was at home."

Madam Sharifah's husband quickly called the police.

Their worst fears were confirmed when paramedics arrived, forced the door open and pronounced Madam Zubaidah dead.

"They told us that she had been dead for about three days and there was blood on the bed," said Madam Sharifah.

She added that Madam Zubaidah had high blood pressure and a blood clot in her leg that caused it to swell.

Indeed, the swelling was so bad that she was shuffling when she walked, Madam Sharifah said.

Madam Zubaidah had lived in her flat for about 12 years. Two years ago, she started living alone after her son was sentenced to seven years' jail.

Her two-year-old grandson has been under the care of Madam Sharifah since then.

Madam Zubaidah was a familiar face on the third storey and Madam Sharifah described her as a friendly person.

"We used to go marketing together and hang out below our flat to have coffee and kueh. She was a nice person to talk to."

KARAOKE SESSIONS

Madam Zubaidah also frequently went to karaoke sessions to occupy herself after her son divorced his wife and was sentenced to jail, said another neighbour, who wanted to be known only as Madam Kamisah and who lives a few units away.

But Madam Zubaidah's medical condition worsened in the last two years.

Madam Kamisah said: "We became a bit suspicious when we didn't see her for the past three days because we would usually greet each other at the corridor.

"When we saw flies outside the flat yesterday, we had a strong feeling that Idah (Madam Zubaidah) had died."

She added: "I feel sad that we didn't speak to her before she died. It's tragic that she died without anyone knowing what had happened to her."

New motion sensor system for old folks

Thanks to a new elderly monitoring system, old folks living alone will soon be able to live in peace at home and not worry about being unable to notify anyone should something untoward happen to them.

A wireless motion sensor system which sends alerts to caregivers or family members is undergoing trial at five flats in Clementi as part of Project Helping Hands, a partnership between Ngee Ann Polytechnic, voluntary welfare organisation Lions Befrienders Service Association and The New Paper.

The wireless motion sensor system, called LUV1 by vendor Nextan, detects movement in senior citizens' flats and sends alerts when there is no activity.

LUV1 will send an emergency SMS to up to six pre-determined family members or caregivers from Lions Befrienders Service Association if motion sensors do not detect movement from the resident within a programmed timeframe, which can range from seconds to several hours.

This is designed to replace an older manual alarm system with pull cords, which have triggered many false alarms.

If the trial is successful, some 45 elderly residents of Clementi, Tiong Bahru and Ang Mo Kio, who are also beneficiaries of Project Helping Hands, will have the sensor system installed in their flats over the next two to three months for free.

PLEASED

Mr Goh Boo Han, executive director of Lions Befrienders, said: "So far, we are pleased with the monitoring system.

"We had two minor distress cases since they were installed in January, but haven't experienced a real emergency in a flat yet, so the success of the trial remains to be seen.

"We chose Clementi, Tiong Bahru and Ang Mo Kio for the first roll-out of the system because they are older estates with a higher number of elder residents."

Mr Goh added that he hopes to install 500 systems by the end of this year.

This article was published on April 5 in The New Paper.

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