Caption: Mdm Dilla (right) with Ms Lynette Liew (left), TOUCH’s reablement coordinator
“One thing I have learnt from TOUCH is to believe that I can get better. The TOUCH team guided me each step of the way. They taught me how to overcome my fears and worked with me to set goals that matter to me. I hope other seniors can also receive help to regain their independence.”
Mdm Dilla’s world fell apart when her husband passed on in February 2022. The 72-year-old homemaker had been his sole caregiver as he battled kidney failure and stroke a decade ago.
Despite struggling with his medical condition and with screw implants in his back, the couple made it a point to spend quality time, holding hands as they go for strolls at the park. Mdm Dilla was then able to attend the activities at TOUCH’s active ageing centre at Yishun Blk 162 and was socially active.
However, a fall in 2021 led to an abrupt change in her routine. Mdm Dilla started to rely on her husband to buy food every day. Her legs were in constant pain. However, not long after, her husband’s health deteriorated. Mdm Dilla’s caregiving responsibilities got tougher when he became bedbound. She felt emotionally and physically drained, having to deal with his mood swings and monitoring his breathing when he sleeps.
“I felt depressed. I was not used to confronting my problems alone. My husband was always there for me. We were very close,” said Mdm Dilla. “As I had difficulties walking, I did not have the confidence to go out alone. I was also depending on people to run errands for me.”
The courage to move on
After a few months of her husband’s passing, TOUCH reablement coordinator Ms Lynette Liew approached Mdm Dilla to understand her aspirations and shared about the Reablement Project. Initiated in July 2022, this project seeks to promote greater independence and autonomy in the elderly, to empower them to live more active and healthier lives.
“When my husband was no longer around, it caused me to think long and hard about my wishes in life. I knew I had to do a reset. I was so busy caring for others that I did not have time for myself, to do the things I enjoy. I recalled how happy I was to be in the company of the seniors at the centre. We did things together like drawing and painting. It was fun! I was prepared to do what it takes to recover quickly,” added Mdm Dilla.
After three months of working together with the reablement team comprising a reablement coordinator, physiotherapist, a nurse and an occupational therapist, Mdm Dilla learnt to set goals to regain her strength. She also began to rediscover her aspirations, which included being able to walk further to the neighbourhood shops, take part in social-recreational activities and improve her nutrition to manage her chronic conditions.
Caption: Mdm Dilla (left) regaining her confidence in run errands in the neighbourhood with help from physiotherapist Ms Emmeline Gay (right)
Caption Mdm Dilla (middle) catching up with neighbours at a nearby coffeeshop
With personalised coaching, Mdm Dilla can now get her own groceries, plan and cook nutritious meals, resume her online and physical art sessions at the centre, get reconnected with her art instructor, meet friends and go out with her extended family members beyond her neighbourhood. She also takes part in the weekly exercise sessions at the centre with encouragement from her friends.
With renewed confidence, Mdm Dilla is able to reach out to vulnerable seniors, including her frail neighbour. She would watch out for her and help her call a cab for her medical appointments. The centre staff also connected Mdm Dilla with more neighbours so that they can continue to mutually support one another.
Caption: Mdm Dilla now leads an enriching and purposeful life
Caption: TOUCH’s Reablement team works with the elderly and caregivers to increase independence and reduce reliance on care services
“One thing I have learnt from TOUCH is to believe that I can get better. The TOUCH team guided me each step of the way. They taught me how to overcome my fears and worked with me to set goals that matter to me. I hope other seniors can also receive help to regain their independence,” said Mdm Dilla.