Successful ageing

Seeing life in a new light

Mr Pang undergoes a slit lamp examination conducted by the Singapore National Eye Centre.
Mr Pang undergoes a slit lamp examination conducted by the Singapore National Eye Centre.PHOTO: SINGAPORE NATIONAL EYE CENTRE

The Ministry of Health's functional screening programme helps to improve seniors' vision, hearing and oral health

Mr Pang Shee Heng used to lead a solitary life. The nonagenarian, who is partially blind and deaf, lives alone in his rental flat in Toa Payoh. His daughter would occasionally visit, but apart from that, he rarely received visitors.

"I did not dare to go out often, as I was worried about giddiness and falling down," he says.

Mr Pang, 94, is completely blind in one eye, so he is not able to make out faces on his television screen in front of him. He is also partially deaf.

Things improved when he went for a basic functional screening in March. This screening programme is offered to Singaporeans aged 60 and above.

Mr Pang now wears new glasses and can see faces clearly (even if his memory does not always allow him to match names to them). And, while his hearing remains patchy, he can chat with people.

"I can see further now, and more clearly. I feel safer when I go out due to my improved vision," he says.

TAKING THE FIRST STEPS

It all began when some staff from the Silver Generation (SG) Satellite Office in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC noticed Mr Pang walking past their office very slowly, leaning heavily on his walking stick whenever he went shopping for groceries.

During an outreach session, some SG Ambassadors visited Mr Pang at his home to get to know him and to explain the various support schemes available for elderly residents, including functional screening.

"I can see further now, and more clearly. I feel safer when I go out due to my improved vision."

As he could not move around easily on his own, the SG Ambassadors accompanied him for the functional screening on March 15 under Project Silver Screen (PSS), a partnership between the Ministry of Health, Temasek Foundation Cares and the business community. This programme

aims at improving the quality of life of seniors by providing checks on their vision, hearing, and oral health and arranging for follow-up treatment if necessary.

Through this project, seniors who require assistive devices will be linked up with relevant care services in their community and receive access to affordable spectacles, hearing aids and dentures to boost their overall health and quality of life.

After his screening, Mr Pang received new prescription spectacles from the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), and low-vision optical aids to help him read newspapers. He was also referred to the Senior Eye Rehabilitation (SEER) Programme, a funded consultation with a community occupational therapist.

For his hearing, he received a new hearing aid from Tan Tock Seng Hospital. He also went for

a dental appointment at a mobile bus run by Unity Denticare to get his teeth cleaned and cavities filled.

The best part? Mr Pang did not pay a cent, thanks to the various subsidies and PSS vouchers he received.

GET SCREENED EARLY

PSS is free for Pioneer Generation cardholders, costs $2 for Community Health Assist Scheme card holders, and $5 for all other Singaporeans.

If individuals require follow-up treatment, they will be referred to the relevant health services. Need-based subsidies are available for all treatments, and PSS vouchers between $15 and $200 will also be given to those who require aids such as spectacles, hearing aids and dentures.

Visit projectsilverscreen.sg or call the Singapore Silver Line at 1800-650-6060 (Mondays to Fridays, 8.30am to 8.30pm, and Saturdays, 8.30am to 4pm, excluding public holidays) for more details.

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