Clementi Volunteers Help Seniors Fight Loneliness Amid Covid-19 Pandemic, Community News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – They took the vaccines they were supposed to do, stayed home as directed and minimized contact with others.

But for some older people, staying safe has led to episodes of loneliness.

Volunteer groups and senior activity centers in Clementi noticed him and started contacting them.

Ms Angie Chen, 47, who started volunteering with Lions Befrienders in January this year, is visiting two elderly women in the field to provide them with social and psycho-emotional support.

She is particularly worried about one of them, who lives alone and is more frail.

“I can see that she is feeling lonely,” Ms. Chen said of the woman, who is 80 years old.

“She talked about her family, her late husband, her children and the things she did as a child. She also talked about her current aches and pains and aches.”

But due to the safe management measures of Covid-19, Ms. Chen is unable to visit him frequently. On her visits, she sometimes helped run errands and errands for herself, but the older person is often reluctant to ask for such help and would insist on repaying it as well.

“The elderly woman has body aches, so it is difficult for her to walk a long distance. And with the pandemic, it is a little more difficult for her,” Ms. Chen said.

Every Tuesday afternoon, the Lions Befrienders Seniors Activity Center at Block 366 Clementi Avenue 2 hosts a scrambling session for the estate’s seniors.

Led by music therapist Evelyn Lee, 37, who plays guitar, the seniors hit drums, play xylophones, and shake tambourines to the beat of Mandarin, Hokkien, and Teochew songs from the 1950s to the 1980s.

The social service agency began the music therapy session in November for the elderly, who often cannot leave home due to the pandemic.

Ms. Lee said, “Group music therapy allows older people to explore relationship building and can be a source of mutual support, reducing isolation and leading to greater understanding and self-expression.

Tan Yeok Lang (right) and Koh Choon Whai (left) with music therapist Evelyn Lee (center) during a music therapy session on November 16, 2021. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

They welcome five seniors per session.

Ms. Tan Yeok Lang, 94, who took her booster dose in October and has been part of the Seniors Activity Center since it opened in 2018, said, “I look forward to participating in other activities because I will have the opportunity to socialize with other seniors and not feel alone. “

At Sasco Seniors Day Care in Block 704 West Coast Road, staff accompany the 70 seniors on virtual tours via Silver Pad – an age-friendly tablet that seniors have been using since March of this year.

They use it to explore historic Singapore or take a “tour” of Clementi and Changi housing estates.

Center director Veronica Oh said before the pandemic, staff took the elderly on outings to places such as the zoo, museums or botanical gardens.

She said, “The seniors at the daycare are missing outings, outdoor activities with volunteers, and festive celebrations.”

Besides virtual tours, seniors also use the tablet to read and play cognitive games.


A therapist aide accompanies a resident as she participates in a play session on the Silver Pad at SASCO on the West Coast. PHOTO: SASCO @ CTE WEST

Ms. Chue Fei Sin, 75, and her 80-year-old husband Low Poh Hong, a retired ship engineer, look forward to coming to the center every day, about 3 miles from their home.

Ms. Chue, who has been fully vaccinated since April and is awaiting her booster, said in Mandarin, “There are a lot of activities to participate in. It’s a lot of fun and I feel like a happy kid every day.

Ms. Ng Yuet Ngor, a 70-year-old who has been attending the center since September 2017, said, “Staying at home is boring and no one talks to me. At least when I go to the center, I can talk to other elderly people. “

Another group of volunteers, Antioch Mission, has been distributing food and groceries to seniors and other residents of blocks 366 and 367 Clementi Avenue 2 since December 2019.

The group’s founder, Adalena Koh, 49, said it had around 20 volunteers, including her fiancé, private driver Ronald Chiaw, 58.

They distribute food to residents every week. They also distribute household items, such as detergent and shampoo, to residents twice a month. The articles come from private donors and organizations such as the Inner Wheel Club of Singapore.

One of the volunteers, Dayana Besi, the housewife, gathered her children aged 11, seven, six and four to distribute the items to their neighbors.

The 35-year-old has volunteered for Antioch Mission for two years.


Ms. Adalena Koh (center) with her full-time volunteer partner Mr. Ronald Chiaw (left) distributing food and groceries to Mdm Dayana Besi. Mdm Dayana participates in the reception and monitoring of seniors in the field. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

“I take my children with them so they can learn to give. Instead of receiving (gifts) every time, it’s just as well to give to others, ”said Mrs. Dayana, who used to receive help from the Antioch mission.

Ms. Dayana added that her children learn to interact and communicate with neighbors while volunteering.

A beneficiary, Hadijah Ibrahim, 71, whose husband has liver problems and son with Down’s syndrome, said: “It helps ease my burden. need to buy them. “

In addition to distributing basic necessities, Ms. Koh also believes in the care and support of the elderly.

She said, “We spend time with these elderly people. They also need a listening ear.”

When Ms Koh saw the elderly feeling depressed about staying home all day during the pandemic, she and her volunteers took them to eat and walk to the beach and the garden.

She said she understands their challenges – she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2009 and had to use a wheelchair for five years.

She added: “I can speak the same language as them because I myself was once a person in need.

“So when I’m able to help some of these people take some of their burden and bring them joy now, I feel happy.”

There are others who are working to protect neighbors from Covid-19. Tell ST about the experience in your field.


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