Forum: Do more for the lonely elderly

An elderly lady on a wheelchair along a covered walkway in Toa Payoh.
An elderly lady on a wheelchair along a covered walkway in Toa Payoh.PHOTO: ST FILE

It is quite heart-rending to read about elderly folk who live alone among piles of rubbish hoarded over years, in homes infested with cockroaches, rodents and other pests (Man found dead among piles of trash in his flat, Oct 1).

In the old days, an extended family was the norm. Today, such families are the exception and it is common for seniors to live alone.

There is truth in what Mr Frank Singam noted - that one of the costs of a highly educated citizenry is that there are more lonely seniors, some of whom are abandoned by their children (For some, higher education comes at a cost, Oct 25).

Granted, some of these elderly hoarders who live alone may be single, and I applaud volunteers who help to declutter their homes.

But more can and should be done, such as regular visits to monitor the situation after the initial contact.

To those who have not read Straits Times reporter Lester Wong's recent commentary (Mum and dad, it's my turn to take care of you now, Oct 13), I urge you to do so. It was such a touching piece that it moved me to tears.

Yes, looking after one's aged parents, especially if they are chronic hoarders, may be an uphill task, but do it we must, for where would we be today if not for their sacrifices, especially during our infant years?

Do we not pride ourselves on being a First World country? Having more than a few citizens living in such undesirable conditions simply does not gel with this image of ourselves that we want to uphold.

Low Siew Hua

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2019, with the headline 'Do more for the lonely elderly'. Print Edition | Subscribe