Successful ageing

Something to smile about

The functional screening made Mr Leo more aware of his oral health and the need for regular check-ups.
The functional screening made Mr Leo more aware of his oral health and the need for regular check-ups.PHOTO: TED CHEN

Project Silver Screen helps seniors like Mr Leo Boh Suan improve their oral health so they can have a better quality of life well into their golden years

After working in the Public Utilities Board for 45 years, retiree Leo Boh Suan, 82, is happy to lead a peaceful life.

He recalls: “I started working there when I was 16. I didn’t have much education then but with on-the-job training, I progressed from doing meter repairs to engine operations.”

Mr Leo lives with his 78-year-old wife in Ang Mo Kio. They have no children and spend their days pursuing diverse interests.

“My wife has many friends and is always busy going out with them. I prefer to stay at home and watch television. I usually go out for breakfast and to buy takeaway meals to eat at home. We seldom cook,” he says.

Three months ago, Silver Generation (SG) Ambassadors came knocking on the couple’s door. These are volunteers who visit seniors to educate them on the various healthcare services and active ageing schemes available, such as the Project Silver Screen (PSS) functional screening programme. Under this, senior citizens can get their vision, hearing and oral health checked at subsidised rates at various convenient venues.

“I don’t usually go for health screenings but since they asked, I agreed,” says Mr Leo.

His only regular screenings are for his eyes — he visits Tan Tock Seng Hospital for annual check-ups after undergoing cataract surgery on both eyes about 10 years ago.

“I can see quite well. I wear reading glasses only when I have to read small print,” he says.

Mr Leo and his wife went to the functional screening at the Lions Befrienders Senior Activity Centre at Ang Mo Kio last November.

At the screening, he was informed that he had dental issues and was advised to go to a dentist for a follow-up.

Mr Leo says he has been wearing a full set of dentures for more than 10 years and was not aware that he had dental issues.

“I always thought that one needs to see a dentist only when one has a toothache,” he says.

“I had full dentures made when I was in my 70s. That was the only time I ever saw a dentist. So far, I have no problems eating.”

Like Mr Leo, many seniors feel that if they do not feel any pain, everything is fine. Most of them will also brush off any vision, hearing or dental issues as they are “old-age problems, can’t help it”. Some will also avoid check-ups because they are concerned about the cost.

But thanks to the PSS functional screening programme, senior citizens can enjoy check-ups and follow-up treatments at subsidised rates.

When a person’s basic daily functions — such as seeing, hearing and eating — are in good shape, it is so much easier to age happily.

In Mr Leo’s case, the functional screening made him more aware of the need for regular check-ups and offered solutions to improve his oral health.

May every senior citizen in this food-loving nation live well into their golden years and get to say: “I have no problems eating.” 

This series is an initiative under the Action Plan for Successful Ageing.   

GET SCREENED EARLY

WHAT:

• Project Silver Screen (PSS) offers functional screening for hearing, eyesight and oral health at subsidised rates to Singapore citizens aged 60 and above.

• It is a partnership between the Ministry of Health, Temasek Foundation Cares and the business community.

HOW MUCH:

• Free for Pioneer Generation card holders, $2 for Community Health Assist Scheme card holders, $5 for all other Singapore citizens.

• If you require follow-up treatment, you will be referred to the relevant healthcare services.

• Need-based subsidies are available for all treatments. You may also receive PSS vouchers of between $15 and $200 if you require aids such as spectacles, hearing aids and dentures.

WHERE AND WHEN:

• For more information and functional screening schedules, visit www.projectsilverscreen.sg or call the Singapore Silver Line on 1800-650-6060 (Monday to Friday: 8.30am to 8.30pm, and Saturday: 8.30am to 4pm, excluding public holidays).