Expanding health programme helping seniors fight chronic disease

The six-month programme consists of workshops on topics like nutrition, breathing techniques, disease knowledge and simple exercises conducted by allied health professionals.
The six-month programme consists of workshops on topics like nutrition, breathing techniques, disease knowledge and simple exercises conducted by allied health professionals.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Elderly residents with chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can look forward to more help managing their conditions.

Organisers of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Programme (CDSMP) are looking to expand it to more places, including community centres,in the South West district after seven successful trials at senior activity centres in the area.

The six-month programme consists of workshops on topics like nutrition, breathing techniques, disease knowledge and simple exercises conducted by allied health professionals.

Participants also take part in activities like brisk walking and health Qigong, an exercise technique, organised by other health interest groups.

There are plans to extend the free programme to communities in Boon Lay, West Coast, Jurong and others by the end of this year.

The programme is a collaboration between South West Community Development Council (CDC) and JurongHealth Campus - Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital - to promote a healthier lifestyle .

According to the CDC, participants in the pilot run since 2016 reported an estimated reduction of 50 per cent in stress levels, and 30 per cent in sleeping difficulties half a year after completing the programme.

Mayor of South West District Low Yen Ling told The Straits Times: "Besides being armed with knowledge and health tips, they (the elderly) can tap on community resources and activities to take better charge of their health and manage their chronic conditions.

"We want residents to know that they are not alone in facing their daily health battles. In fact, we all have a shared responsibility for the health of our community."

Madam Tan Siew Hong, 63, is one of 86 residents who took part in the pilot run of and the 63-year-old shared that her chronic knee pains and sleep disorder have been alleviated through the exercise and breathing techniques she learnt.

Madam Foo Shiong Thay, 79, also feels that the programme has helped strengthen the bond within the community.

"Everyone here knows each other...even if we don't speak the same language, we will say hello to each other and do the exercises together," she said.

Madam Foo has high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. She attended the CDSMP with her 83-year-old husband, Mr Chia San Far, who is a wheelchair user.

Mr Chia said that he enjoys the exercises and being in the company of other residents.

Seniors will be encouraged to join various health interest groups under the CDC upon completion of the programme to sustain their healthy habits.