Forum: Caring for seniors - it takes a village

A domestic worker helping an elderly man cross the underpass between East Coast Park and Marine Parade on Sept 5, 2019.
A domestic worker helping an elderly man cross the underpass between East Coast Park and Marine Parade on Sept 5, 2019.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Forum contributor Guan Xuemei made astute observations about the mobility issues of senior citizens (Little details make big difference to seniors who can walk, ST Online, Oct 1).

Another conversation worth having is perhaps seniors carrying too many - or heavy - things, and the potential consequences.

It's not uncommon, for instance, to see seniors struggling with groceries at supermarket checkout counters. They buy too much, and overestimate their ability to lug all the groceries back home, risking falls and injuries.

It could be helpful for supermarket counter staff to politely inquire if these seniors need help and to intervene as necessary, such as offering to call a family member or the domestic helper to come and help.

This was something I observed that supermarket staff would do quite frequently during my time living and working in Melbourne.

Once, I helped an old woman who was on a travellator on her way down to the basement carpark.

Her shopping trolley was overweight with too many groceries and the anti-skid mechanism of the trolley somehow malfunctioned. The trolley started to drag the woman dangerously down as she held on and refused to let go. It was fortuitous that I happened to be standing a short distance behind her and was able to reach out and grab the shopping trolley before it dragged her further down the travellator; the fall could have been fatal for her.

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, the same could be said for watching out for seniors as well.

So let's continue to keep the conversations going as we tackle together the ageing issues of our seniors and help them to age well and to live well.

Woon Wee Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2019, with the headline 'Caring for seniors: It takes a village'. Print Edition | Subscribe