SINGAPORE - Seniors will not have to go too far from home to enjoy more active ageing activities, as the People's Association extends its Wellness Programme from community clubs to residents' committees (RC).
The PA programme for seniors is being extended this year in conjunction with its 10th anniversary.
Called Wellness Time @ RC, the new initiative provides a suite of regular active ageing programmes for seniors to take part in near their homes.
These include health screenings, weekly exercise programmes and social interest groups.
Wellness Time @ RC was launched in April and is already available at about 200 RCs.
Theassociation aims to roll out Wellness Time @ RC to two thirds of all RCs in Singapore by 2020. There are about 650 RCs in Singapore.
At a celebration lunch on Sunday (Nov 18) for the 10th anniversary of the Wellness Programme, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that besides strengthening Singapore's healthcare system and national infrastructure, it is also important for the community to have a strong sense of "gotong royong" (community spirit).
"Everyone has a part to play in building a caring and cohesive society that enables our seniors to age gracefully," said Mr Heng at the event held at Resorts World Convention Centre.
Special adviser to chairman of PA board of management Lim Boon Heng also spoke during the lunch.
He said that one reason the programme focuses on forming interest groups is to help promote friendships among the elderly and provide a platform where seniors can interact.
"The 'kampung spirit' will make a difference to our seniors because a lot of them become very isolated from living alone, and can suffer from depression."
Launched in 2008 to encourage seniors to care for their own health, the PA Wellness Programme has since benefited more than half a million Singaporeans and permanent residents aged 50 and above.
Activities include health screenings, cooking and dance classes, and outdoor activities such as dragon boating and brisk walking.
Those who have benefited from the programme say they enjoy being able to keep their minds and bodies active, as well asextend a helping hand to fellow seniors.
Housewife Christine Wu, 62, runs a smartphone interest group at Taman Jurong Community Centre.
The grandmother-of-one joined the group in 2012 when she saw her daughter scrolling through Facebook and wanted to learn more.
Today, she teaches other seniors in the group how to use various mobile apps including WhatsApp and online sites such as YouTube.
She also shows them how to shop online.
She said: "It can be intimidating for seniors to ask for help and at times their children can also become impatient with them while teaching them. So I'm happy to help them learn."
Mrs Yogeswary Rajaaratnam, 77, a retired nurse who teaches callisthenics at different community centres almost every day, said the best part about joining the Wellness Programme activities is being able to stay active.
"It makes me feel younger to help others and staying active keeps me alert.
"I've learnt so much from various activities such as dancing, tai chi and even playing the ukulele."