Empowering seniors to engage seniors

Empowering seniors to engage seniors

Caption: Mdm Hajjah displaying her craft collection at TSAC Yishun Blk 436

70-year-old Mdm Hajjah Mesnah Binte Simen spent more than a decade caring for her husband, who was suffering from chronic pneumonia. It was a stressful period for the sole caregiver as she had to cope with caregiving duties, which included keeping track of his frequent medical appointments and range of medication. Mdm Hajjah would spend hours cleaning up her home as her husband also suffered from incontinence. At night, she also had to check that his oxygen tank was functioning well. He finally passed on three years ago, at the age of 81.

“It was not easy for me. I had to keep a close watch over my husband to make sure he is alright. I do what I can to help him, “ said Mdm Hajjah

A turning point

Caption: Mdm Hajjah (left) with best friend Mdm Ruku (right)

With time on her hands and with the newly opened TOUCH Senior Activity Centre opposite her block, she started attending the centre’s activities. As Mdm Hajjah lives alone, she looks forward to dropping by the centre and socialising with other seniors.

Early this year, Mdm Hajjah's son gave her a handphone and encouraged her to use it. She started watching YouTube and came across a craft video channel. Soon, she was spending an hour each day watching the tutorials. She then roped in her neighbour and best friend from TSAC, 69-year-old Mdm Ruku, as she pursued her new hobby. Together, they would go to various places, including Daiso and Popular Bookstore to shop for craft decorative parts.

“When I first saw the beautiful crafts on YouTube, I told myself I should try to do it. I felt happy. I started with a rose. It was lovely! I was so excited I wanted to share this hobby with other seniors at the centre. When I showed the centre staff, they were impressed,” said Mdm Hajjah.

Teaching fellow seniors

Lowres Mdm Haj
Caption: Mdm Haijah (standing) engaging residents through her artistic skills

Caption: At home with her lovely craft collection

Mdm Hajjah would also apps her children every day to update them about her finished art work. She also started getting creative and used materials like recycled plastic bags and coke plastic bottles for her craft work.

“It warms my heart to see my friends at the centre learning a new skill and finishing their lovely product. They were so thrilled to see their own flower when it was done!” added Mdm Hajjah.

“I feel so encouraged to learn from her. It feels good we can share with others what we are good at. It helps us feel more confident. I always encourage seniors to come and join the craft sessions. I find seniors tend to be more attentive when they are learning from fellow seniors. They must be thinking if we can do it, they can too!” quipped Mdm Ruku.

Mdm Hajjah and Mdm Ruku would keep themselves busy at the centre and encourage other seniors to join too. “I feel so happy coming down. I have nowhere else to go. If I didn’t join SAC, I wouldn’t have known Mdm Ruki although we are neighbours. I also enjoy having Chinese friends. In the past, the seniors would hang out at the void deck, looking aimless and bored. Now, they have meaningful things to occupy their time and to learn from one another,” added Mdm Hajjah.