SINGAPORE - Sitting idle at home is unthinkable for retiree Allan Thia Tian Siong.
Since September 2019, the active 82-year-old, who lives with his wife and daughter, makes the short commute from his home to Hougang Community Club daily to meet seniors like himself.
On Friday (Jan 10), he was among 25 elderly folk who turned up for the official opening of the Home Nursing Foundation's (HNF) first senior care centre.
Called Wellness @ Hougang, it aims to help meet the growing demand for day-care and dementia care facilities for senior citizens, whose caregivers often have to work as well.
The centre, which began operating in September, is also a safe haven for people like sociable Mr Thia.
"I enjoy singing, dancing and karaoke. I cannot do these things alone at home. My wife is a homely person, but I need to be out meeting people," he said.
Mr Thia, who fondly remembers songs by Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, uses the dementia care facilities at the centre, which opens daily from 7am to 7pm.
Modelled after a tea house in a garden, the centre has an indoor garden with synthetic grass, a relaxation room and space for exercise designed for the elderly.
It also offers a care-giving support and training programme to equip family members and domestic helpers with skills to care for the elderly.
Permanent Secretary for Health Chan Yeng Kit, who officially opened the centre, said community eldercare services were essential for Singapore's ageing population.
"There is value in service providers offering services across different settings so that seniors can more seamlessly access appropriate services when they need it.
"For example, seniors attending HNF's day care are assured that if they become more frail, they will be able to benefit from HNF's home-care services seamlessly," he added.
During a guided tour of the facility, he noted that manpower concerns in the nursing and support care sectors and operational costs were challenges facing eldercare institutions like HNF.
The ministry will look into giving more support to eldercare institutions in the future, he said.
HNF, founded in 1976, offers home-care services and supports around 4,000 patients in Singapore.
Ms Priscylla Shaw, president of its management board, said the centre is to help ensure seniors do not remain isolated at home.
HNF plans to open another senior care centre in Buangkok in the third quarter of this year, she added.
The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) reports that half of Singapore's seniors older than 85 have dementia. This worked out to an estimated 82,000 people in 2018, it added.
By 2030, the pool is expected to swell to between 130,000 and 140,000.
A national survey on dementia has found that three in four with the condition feel lonely and rejected.
The survey, conducted in January 2019 by the Singapore Management University and the Alzheimer's Disease Association, also found that nearly 30 per cent of caregivers feel embarrassed when they are in public with a loved one who has dementia.
Fees for monthly day-care services range from $100 to $1,200.
The monthly fees for community rehabilitation services, which promote community engagement and socialisation among seniors, range between $45 and $675.