Bukit Batok seniors get tips on health and smartphone use

Above: Grassroots leader Chiew Tuan Kiang with the flash cards he uses to teach seniors how to use their smartphones. Left: Madam Lee Siew Kuan, 99, says she will be happy if centenary birthday celebrations are held. Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai with
Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai with Mr Low Hai Ng, 98, in the community garden at Block 219 yesterday. Mr Murali hopes to hold centenary birthday celebrations for residents in his constituency when they turn 100.PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Above: Grassroots leader Chiew Tuan Kiang with the flash cards he uses to teach seniors how to use their smartphones. Left: Madam Lee Siew Kuan, 99, says she will be happy if centenary birthday celebrations are held. Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai with
Grassroots leader Chiew Tuan Kiang with the flash cards he uses to teach seniors how to use their smartphones. PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Above: Grassroots leader Chiew Tuan Kiang with the flash cards he uses to teach seniors how to use their smartphones. Left: Madam Lee Siew Kuan, 99, says she will be happy if centenary birthday celebrations are held. Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai with
Madam Lee Siew Kuan, 99, says she will be happy if centenary birthday celebrations are held.PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO

When grassroots leader Chiew Tuan Kiang chatted with seniors at community events, many confessed they did not know how to use the smartphones their children had given them.

"They knew only how to dial numbers, and their children were too impatient to teach them how to do other things," said Dr Chiew, the assistant secretary of the Bukit Batok Citizens' Consultative Committee.

This gave him an idea for workshops and home visits to teach seniors how to use their smartphones.

Today, the popular programme is one of several that cater to the elderly in Bukit Batok, said MP Murali Pillai yesterday ahead of a ministerial community visit to his constituency on July 29.

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Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing will visit the constituency, where 12 per cent of the residents are aged 65 and older.

About 100 seniors have attended the Know Your Smartphone workshops so far, said Dr Chiew, who is helped by youth volunteers.

He teaches them things like how to take photos and store contacts, and gives out flash cards on these topics.

Once they become proficient, the seniors can also ask Dr Chiew questions over WhatsApp, like how to type in Chinese.

Said Dr Chiew: "At first they could use their phones only to dial. Now, some can even use selfie sticks with their phones."

Another programme highlighted by Mr Murali was Bukit Batok's "community health posts" held at the senior citizen corners in the void decks of Housing Board blocks.

At the monthly sessions, seniors are encouraged to go for health screenings and attend Bukit Batok's "health coaching" sessions, where they are taught how to live healthily and choose healthier food options.

The sessions are conducted by healthcare workers from the Government and voluntary welfare organisations.

Mr Murali said he was also keen to start organising centenarian birthday parties for seniors who turn 100. There are 190 seniors aged 90 and above in Bukit Batok.

"It's about celebrating their birthdays with the community. The idea is to hold them up as good examples for healthy living," said Mr Murali.

After the briefing, he visited Madam Lee Siew Kuan, 99, a retired school canteen stall operator, who told him in Mandarin that she would be very happy with such a birthday party.

Correction note: This story has been edited to provide the correct date of the ministerial community visit to MP Murali Pillai's constituency, which will be on July 29.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'Bukit Batok seniors get tips on health and smartphone use'. Print Edition | Subscribe