COVID-19 has changed the way we live. Some more than others.
Since circuit breaker started, some (strange) semblance of normalcy has settled in. For the working adults and those still in school, we would have gotten used to the routine of working and learning from home, spending our weekends with tik tok, Netflix or comparing recipes with our friends.
For the older generation, adjusting to new measures and having to stay home can be more difficult.
For parents/grandparents who live apart from their children/grandchildren, time has passed by a lot slower. The weekends that they look forward to may now hold less meaning without warm hugs and infectious laughter from the tiny humans who used to visit them every weekend.
For those who are staying with their elderly parents, finding opportunities for them to stay meaningfully engaged and safe at home is more than just a walk in the park, literally and figuratively.
With seniors being at greater risk during this COVID-19 pandemic as they have a higher chance of developing severe complications from the virus, agencies like the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) has been busy supporting seniors stay safe and live well at home.
Outside of the home, AIC is also working closely with Community Care partners to provide support for the vulnerable elderly and Community Care staff. These services include home care, day care and residential care such as nursing homes.
With many of us set to stay in for the days ahead, INSIDE speaks to AIC to find out how we can better support the seniors in our lives and in the wider community.
Making Time For Each Other
For those living together with seniors, there is no better time to engage the seniors. To ensure the wellbeing of everyone in the family, it is important that each family member plays a part to help each other out. Seniors can keep themselves engaged with informational, useful activities and simple exercises.
If you’re lacking one more person for that marathon mahjong session, consider printing out these activity booklets by AIC.
From word searches, jigsaw puzzles to colouring sheets, pull up a chair and sit beside them to look for that word together.
If your parents/grandparents are itching for a tune now that karaoke sessions at the residents’ corner have stopped, sing along with them!
Download the song lists compiled by AIC, courtesy of MediaCorp, so that they can belt out a tune (or two, or three) at home in English, Chinese and Malay (and soon in Tamil!). It is a trip down memory lane and an opportunity to create new memories together.
For those not staying together, there is no reason for you to postpone that family call/zoom session now that everyone is at home. With some remote IT support, guide the seniors in your life to download the videocall mobile app of your choice. While it may not be possible for them to hold those tiny hands that often now, simply hearing their grandkids call out to them may be the highlight of their day.
This circuit breaker has showed us that food is the common language for love. If you’ve always wondered how your parents or grandparents prepare your favourite meal, now is the time to ask. Once you’ve uncovered the family secret recipe, return the favour (and flavour) and make a meal for them.
Alternatively, order a meal for your parents/grandparents staying apart so that they don’t tire themselves out cleaning the kitchen after cooking.
Vulnerable seniors in the community may also need more help during this period to cope with their daily living. Through AIC’s outreach arm, The Silver Generation Office has been checking in on their well-being and providing assistance, including arranging for meal deliveries, running errands such as buying groceries or medication so that the seniors have one less thing to worry about.
Many of us have also played our part in joining CapitaLand to donate a meal to help out those in need, such as the recent #MealOnMe initiative that will be providing over 30,000 meals to the elderly in community care facilities like AWWA’s Senior Community Home and Apex Harmony Lodge and other vulnerable groups.
Watch our staff volunteers in action! >>
Making Homes Safe
While it is easier for healthy, able-bodied seniors to stay safe at home – and at the same time feel meaningfully engaged with simple household chores, there are those who need more help than others.
To safeguard the well-being of the vulnerable elderly, AIC has been working closely with Community Care partners to build up their overall preparedness capability and support their operations impacted by COVID-19. Since 2 April 2020, precautionary measures such as strict infection control practices, screening of travel and health history, hand hygiene and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been put in place. For nursing homes, precautionary measures also include implementing split zones and safe distancing measures, requiring all resident-facing staff to move into designated accommodation to reduce the risk of community infection, and suspending all visits.
Corporate organisations have been playing their part to support these objectives. CapitaLand through its philanthropic arm CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), has partnered with the Community Foundation of Singapore’s Sayang Sayang Fund to contribute S$700,000 to AIC. The CapitaLand '#LoveOurSeniors’ initiative will go towards emergency support for the community care sector such as purchasing of PPE, disinfecting of premises if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as well as providing support for affected elderly and their family members to keep them engaged and safe in the community.
Caring for the seniors is just one part of the equation, supporting Community Care staff is important too.
An appreciation fund has been set aside to provide additional welfare, such as care packs, vitamins, transport vouchers and meals, for the staff of Community Care partners.
Senior Staff Nurse Sandar Swe, Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home, said: "We were at a loss when our landlords expressed their concerns, leaving us to find alternative accommodation overnight.
We appreciate our management and CapitaLand in assisting and providing us a safe haven within such short notice. In these difficult times of uncertainties, education and communication of healthcare measures are important. I hope that the community comes together in solidarity to get through this together. Thank you for providing us shelter in this difficult time."
CapitaLand also donated air purifiers, air coolers and fridges to Apex Harmony Lodge so that staff can carry out their split team arrangements successfully.
Mr Tan Kwang Cheak, Chief Executive Officer, Agency for Integrated Care said: “AIC is thankful for CapitaLand’s support towards our Community Care partners that will be used for causes that include helping our seniors. The donation is especially significant and meaningful, given the challenging period we are going through."
"The donation is especially significant and meaningful, given the challenging period we are going through."
Making it Count
While circuit breaker may end, let’s continue to keep these important ties that bind. As we find our own balance to juggle work, family and our caregiving commitments for our seniors at home, let’s make the relationship with the seniors in our lives and in the community count. It is through being united that we become stronger together.