Caption: Mr Chua Seo Poh (right) with THC’s occupational therapist Ms Doreen Ang (left) at a neighbourhood fitness park
Mr Chua Seo Poh, an 87-year old widower, never imagined he would need help from his elderly flat mate to get out of bed in their one-room flat. A year ago, Mr Chua suffered a bad bout of cough, which caused him to cough for days throughout the night. One night, the pain became so excruciating that he was unable to move his entire body. It turned out he sustained a compression fracture of the spine.
“I could not turn to the side when I sleep; I felt like a prisoner in my own bed. I would scream in pain each time I tried to move my body. It was so painful till I teared,” said Mr Chua.
Every morning, Mr Chua had to rely on his 70-year-old flat mate to pull him out of bed. It was no easy feat as he had to be carried. His body would stiffen as he was fearful of falls. He also suffered sleepless nights as he was constantly in pain.
The back pain persisted even after his discharge from the hospital. Mr Chua was already under the care of TOUCH Home Care (THC) five years ago after a fall in the park. A helpful neighbor had also shared with him about THC. Since then, THC has helped to oversee his meals, keep his home clean and provided transport for his medical appointments.
THC’s aides had noticed Mr Chua’s increasing frustrations in getting out of bed and flagged his case. THC’s occupational therapist and physiotherapist then visited Mr Chua to see how he could be further supported at home. He was then taught exercises to loosen and strengthen his muscles. Through sheer determination, Mr Chua did his exercises daily and by his fifth physiotherapy session, he was able to visit his favourite spots in the neighbourhood again.
“I felt like I have been rescued. I was not prepared to give up. If I cannot get out of my home, I would rather die,” said Mr Chua feeling grateful.
Mr Chua is no stranger to hardships. He started working at the age of 12, doing carpentry work for the Japanese army in exchange for rice and cigarettes, which he sold to buy sweet potatoes to feed his family of five. From a young age, he learnt to be resilient.
“At first, I felt discouraged when one of the bus drivers scolded me for slowing down everyone because I was using a wheelchair. But when the therapist trained me to get around using a walking stick, I felt more confident. My wife’s death had left a big void in my life and I cannot imagine spending my whole day cooped up at home. So I was determined to get well quickly,” said Mr Chua.
Caption: Mr Chua enjoys meeting up with old friends and seeing new things in his neighbourhood
Mr Chua’s life is incomplete without his daily commute to the Toa Payoh air-conditioned bus interchange where he meets his buddies whom he has known for more than a decade ever since his wife passed on. But sadly, many of them are no longer around.
When asked how he feels about his life, Mr Chua said, “When you are old, do not worry too much, whether it is about relationships or finances. Seek your faith and find hope in what you believe in, and you will find joy and peace in your heart.”