Friday, August 16, 2013

New support programme for seniors to help promote active ageing - Channel News Asia

SINGAPORE: A new initiative has been launched to help the elderly take care of one another. The Caring Assistance from Neighbours Programme aims to provide social and healthcare support to senior residents who live alone.

One of the beneficiaries is 71-year-old Mr Petha Perumal, who lives alone in his one-room flat. He suffers from several medical conditions, like dementia, diabetes and weak lower limbs, which require him to take various tablets everyday.

While he is single and has no family to turn to, he said he is never helpless -- thanks to 60-year-old Mary who drops by everyday.

"She will personally come down and make sure I take my medicine. After I take my medicine, only then she will leave," said Mr Perumal.

The number of seniors aged 65 and above who live on their own has been increasing over the years -- from 15,000 in 2000 to 28,000 in 2010.

With the Caring Assistance from Neighbours Programme, healthy elderly neighbours like Mary are encouraged to take on the role of carer and friend.

To help provide quality healthcare, carers are trained in safe medication consumption practices. And what makes this programme valuable is that it benefits both elderly groups.

Acting Minister for Social and Family Development, Chan Chun Sing, said: "He benefits from the help that other people are giving him. But more importantly, the person who is giving him the help, himself or herself who is elderly as well, gets a sense of purpose and a sense of mission."

Minister of State for Health and Manpower, Dr Amy Khor, echoed similar sentiments. She said: "The carer, in this case Mary, looking after Perumal -- the client, has actually formed a good strong friendship and that has actually benefited both of them."

The pilot programme has been rolled out in Taman Jurong and Bukit Merah. Later this year, it will be extended to five more neighbourhoods.

Presently, there are 41 carers providing support to 237 seniors under this programme.
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