Caption: TOUCH Home Care’s (THC) occupational therapist Ms Ho Xiu Ping (left) helping Mr Chia (right) navigate his neighbourhood safely
Mr Chia Chin Song can never forget the thrill of a plane take-off and land. That was 10 years ago when he visited Kuching and Bangkok with a group of friends. Since then, the 66-year-old who has mobility constraints, spends most of his time alone, listening to radio and watching TV within the confines of his two-room Housing Board rental flat.
Working as a telephone technician and a clerk in the past, Mr Chia has always believed in being self-reliant. An introvert by nature, he usually keeps to himself.
Caption: Finding support from THC and the community
The journey to recovery
Mr Chia started experiencing pain in his leg when he was in his 50s. With an unsteady gait, he was prone to falls and had fallen many times. As his legs weakened further, Mr Chia had to stop work. Walking with a limp, he struggled to look after himself.
“When I saw the doctor, he told me my bones were pressing against my nerves. So it affected the sensation in my palms and my fingers felt numb. I kept falling and could not walk far. I would also feel breathless easily,” said Mr Chia.
Five years ago, Mr Chia realised he was starting to wobble and had difficulties buttoning his clothes. His weak sense of balance also caused him to have frequent falls. He was then admitted to a hospital for a week. A medical social worker then referred him to TOUCH Home Care (THC) to see how he could be supported at home.
“I was relieved to know there are people who can help me at home. I used to sweep and mop my floor. With my condition I was not sure how I could do it on my own,” said Mr Chia.
After his discharge from the hospital, a THC staff visited Mr Chia to assess his needs and discussed with him about his goals in life. TOUCH aides then came in to help him keep his home clean, deliver meals. THC’s occupational therapist also put him on a 12-week rehabilitation programme to strengthen his muscles, and improve his balance and endurance. Mr Chia was also prescribed a walking frame and trained to use it safely.
Caption: Mr Chia learns to exercise with other residents to keep fit.
Ageing well in community
Recently, Mr Chia started joining the strength training exercise sessions once a week at a nearby void deck as part of TOUCH’s community enablement efforts to connect and equip residents to support the needs of vulnerable seniors.
There he exercises with others - both able-bodied adults and seniors with disabilities like himself – and is kept engaged through outings organised by THC.
“That was a breakthrough for us! It was challenging to persuade Mr Chia to get out of his home. But we persisted in our efforts. We are happy to see him in the company of other residents, exercising at his own pace and learning to take care of his health. He may not talk much, but it is good to see him relaxing and breathing some fresh air instead of being cooped up at home,” said Ms Priscilla Teo, Centre Manger, TOUCH Home Care (Toa Payoh & Ang Mo Kio).
Mr Chia does not think too much of his future, and does not expect much in life. He is stoic and accepts the realities of life. At least for now, he is able to continue living in the comfort and familiarity of his home. For this, he is contented.