Ground-up initiatives to get senior citizens to band together and stay active

Since last July, retired car spare parts seller Low Ngian Woo, 64, and his six friends have been organising daily breakfast sessions and other activities for about 50 seniors in Paya Lebar.

"We usually eat Teochew porridge and read the papers," he said.

This has helped the seniors to watch what they eat and also given them a chance to get acquainted, added Mr Low.

The group's most popular activity is the morning exercise, when up to 200 seniors gather to work out.

At least five groups of seniors here have teamed up to keep an eye on older folk who may be depressed, need help, want to get active or are just looking for some company.

The teams are among the numerous ground-up initiatives springing up under a programme to get senior citizens active and engaged in the community, says the People's Association, which rolled out its nationwide Wellness Programme in 2010.

The goal is to reach out to at least half of the senior population aged 50 and above in every constituency.

Mr Low's "Paya Lebar Care Team", for one, visits vulnerable seniors - including those who live alone or may not be mobile - that the volunteers identify and befriend by working together with other grassroots leaders.

The team also has three retired nurses, including Ms Yeo Chwee Fong, 70, who help to do simple health checks such as taking blood pressure measurements at a person's home.

During one such house visit yesterday, Ms Yeo and other volunteers young and old called in on Madam Liew Shew Fong, 95, at her four-room Hougang flat.

The younger ones were second-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic students, such as 18-year- old Seah Chen Hong, who were there under a partnership with the Care Team.

"I learnt from Madam Liew that being happy is the key to living a long life. That is something our generation does not focus on," Mr Seah said.

Ms Yeo also advised Madam Liew's new maid to focus on keeping the flat tidy so that she and her husband, 99-year-old Mr Chen Ko Lie, do not trip over anything.

Said Madam Liew: "I know everyone is busy, but I appreciate that they think of me and come to visit."