The number of seniors who live by themselves has nearly tripled from 14,500 in 2000 to 42,100 in 2014. This number is estimated to double to 83,000 by 2030. According to research published by the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s Department of Psychological Medicine in 2015, the risk of dying prematurely increases by 1.7 times for seniors who live alone.
In the last two years, Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) has quickened its expansion of services for seniors who are at risk of social isolation. In 2014, Charis ACE (Activity Centre for Elders) was launched for seniors living in the Geylang East area. This was the first MWS senior activity centre that targeted underserved seniors living in three-room to five-room flats. Most senior activity centres in Singapore serve rental blocks.
This year, MWS will launch three more senior activity centres that cater to seniors living in studio apartments. One of them opened its doors to residents in Fernvale in June. The other two are located in Teck Ghee Vista and Sims Place.
These centres will focus on holistic health and wellness programmes designed to support independent living and ageing in place. The studio apartments are equipped with the Alert Alarm System (AAS) that is linked to the centre which can respond to emergencies faced by seniors living alone.
One of the specialised programmes offered in the Fernvale centre is GYMTONIC which aims to improve physical functions of seniors. Supported by Lien Foundation, the equipment operates on an air-pressure system which is considerably gentler and more suited to seniors’ muscles and joints. The built-in IT system is able to individualise and pre-programme exercise regimes, and track the progress of each senior user.
Other components of the person-centred programme include wellness screenings for early detection and maintenance of health, as well as information and referral services to meet seniors’ varied needs. For our seniors, to be members of a community who bond with and support one another through meaningful programmes and activities is probably the most heartfelt benefit.
MWS Senior Activity Centres at Fernvale Rivergrove, Greentops@Sims Place and Teck Ghee Vista do not receive any government funding.
Photos courtesy of the Methodist Welfare Services
By the Methodist Welfare Services Communications Team