Delivering care and concern for neighbours

Presently residing in Toa Payoh 5-room HDB flat near Jalan Dusun, Mdm Wong seems to be an active senior citizen at first glance. The 71-year-old housewife often attends meetings and activities organised by the neighbourhood committee, or taking a bus trip to go out.

However, 65-year-old Mdm Chua Kit Han, a volunteer under Community Befriending Programme, realised that her befriendee, Mdm Wong was facing similar problems like many other seniors, such as health issues and other concerns after a visitation.

Mdm Chua found out that Mdm Wong had been suffering from diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and acid reflux. She has been living alone since her husband passed away from cancer. She is also becoming more forgetful these days. “Sometimes, she had already signed up and paid for an activity organised by the neighbourhood committee, but on the actual day, she forgets entirely about it and does not show up. She also has a tendency of forgetting to lock her door,” Mdm Chua observed.

Not long ago, Mdm Wong had a bad fall at home and her left shoulder was dislocated. She could not remember how she managed to climb to her bed. It took her a few days later to leave her house to see a doctor. Since this injury, tidying up her 5-room flat has eventually become more challenging.

As Mdm Wong watches TV all day long, she often forgets the scheduled dates for her medical consultations or check-ups at the hospital. The doctor had told her that she has mild symptoms of dementia. After Mdm Wong’s son discovered his mother’s situation, he started to accompany Mdm Wong to the hospital to visit a doctor. Additionally, Mdm Chua visits her often so that she feels less lonely.

“I fell and hurt my shoulder and it was Mdm Chua who brought me to see a Chinese medicine practitioner. We frequently talk about my husband, as I shared with her how my husband took care of myself and my family when he was still around. Even though he has passed away for many years, I still miss him very much,” Mdm Wong touchingly shared.

Mdm Wong also mentioned that due to her poor memory and hearing, she was unable to communicate properly with other people. When Mdm Chua visits her home, she is grateful to have some company and someone that she could talk with. Eventually, she feels happier too.

Volunteering with her husband, adding colours to their retirement lives

Mdm Chua became a volunteer under Community Befriending Programme (CBP) more than one year ago, which is an initiative administered by Council for Third Age (C3A). When she accepted Lianhe Zaobao’s interview, she recalled how she first met Mdm Wong during one of the activities organised by the neighbourhood committee. As both of them have lived in the same district for many years, they will greet whenever they run into each other.

“When I became her befriender, I had a greater understanding of Mdm Wong. I feel that I should look out for her since we are neighbours after all,” Mdm Chua said.

Mdm Chua keeps her body and mind active even after retirement. She takes care of her two grandsons, and often accompanies her husband to different places in Singapore to play badminton. Occasionally, she meets up with her friends to visit temples or go shopping. She attends art-related courses too, leading a fulfilling life.

She had once helped out in community club, and she thought that volunteering was very meaningful. Thus, she decided to be a Silver Generation Ambassador with her husband. Together, they visit the other seniors in their district, understanding more about their lives and health situations.

Lending a listening ear to her befriendee

Being a community befriender is not difficult as the befrienders are usually assigned to befriendees that are seniors living in the vicinity.

Sometimes, when Mdm Wong doesn’t answer her phone calls, Mdm Chua will come by Mdm Wong’s house to ensure that she is doing fine. Since Mdm Chua lives nearby, she thought that it wasn’t inconvenient at all. As a befriender, they can lend a listening ear to their befriendees and put themselves in their shoes.

“I usually visit her once in two weeks, chatting with her, talking about what has happened recently, and checking on her health and living conditions, just like how I visit my other friends. Our age is around the same, so it’s easier for us to communicate,” Mdm Chua explained.

“If possible, I hope I can be a community befriender to more seniors. To me, if I can make more friends while helping others, why shouldn’t I continue?” Mdm Chua concluded.

**If you would like to be a befriender like Mdm Chua Kit Han to help others, check out the various volunteering opportunities available here.

Source: Lianhe ZaoBao © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.