LIVING LIFE WITH CHOICES AND POSSIBILITIES
Despite best intentions to provide for our seniors, some service providers may prescribe activities or routines that take away a key ingredient that can improve the emotional well-being of seniors: Choice. Whether residing in a nursing home or living within the community, seniors should have choices over their daily living, especially if they are still capable of making decisions.
To cater to the rapidly ageing population, nursing homes can look to new ways of delivering eldercare services to make seniors feel at home for a start. St Theresa’s Home, a Catholic welfare nursing home for the elderly, adopts a heartening philosophy of care that enables the elderly to continue their preferred way of life. The different types and colours of bed linen and the occasional choice to have breakfast at a nearby hawker centre or having hawker centre food in the nursing home are some examples where residents are empowered to make choices. Many a time, having a choice is more important than the choice itself.
Another model of care that empowers seniors is a community space called Wellness Kampung, where programmes are designed by seniors, and for seniors. Ageing in place is not just about remaining in the same physical space, but also about living life the way you want to. Senior residents in the Chong Pang estate are empowered to organise and lead activities that interest them. These include conducting a Thai language class as one of the seniors is proficient in the language and there is interest amongst the rest. They also cooked up a storm and shared the menu and the food after sweating it out from a Theraband exercise, conducted by yet another senior. Some senior volunteers also own the key to the centre and even open and close the premise themselves each day. Having such freedom will not only increase their sense of ownership of the community, but also allow them to mingle and forge stronger friendships.
Such unique models of care, in two completely different settings, serve to present new insights for funders, corporates and policymakers of new ways of eldercare. Together, we can create an empowering environment for seniors to age with dignity and purpose.