Wellness centre for seniors at Marsiling to keep fit, mingle

Madam Salmah has been visiting the SilverCove centre five times a week since it opened in September last year. The centre boasts a senior-friendly gym, offers health and dental check-up services and hosts an array of activities, like karaoke sessions
Madam Salmah has been visiting the SilverCove centre five times a week since it opened in September last year. The centre boasts a senior-friendly gym, offers health and dental check-up services and hosts an array of activities, like karaoke sessions and cooking classes.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Retiree Salmah Nasir, 64, used to walk with a tongkat, or walking stick, after a knee operation.

She also stayed at home alone while her daughter went to work, as she had no friends in the community she had just moved into.

Now, she walks fine without a stick and visits her new friends at their homes twice a week.

For this, Madam Salmah has SilverCove, a senior wellness centre at Block 180A and 180B Marsiling Heights which was launched officially yesterday by NTUC Health, to thank.

She has visited the centre five days a week since it opened in September last year, participating in the daily mass exercise sessions and using the gym equipment.

SilverCove boasts a senior-friendly gym, offers health and dental check-up services and hosts an array of activities, including karaoke sessions and cooking classes.

For $10 a year, senior citizens from both blocks can go to the centre as often as they want.

Non-resident senior citizens can become members for $300 a year.

They can also consult for free the community nurse from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital who visits the centre twice a week, or the Eu Yan Sang traditional Chinese medicine specialist who goes there once a week and offers consultation services at $2 off the normal rates.

Madam Tan Buan, 73, enjoys the occasional outing, such as the one to Gardens by the Bay last year.

"The best is to go out and enjoy," she said in Mandarin. "Anywhere is fine, as long as I can walk."

According to MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC and Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who was at the launch, there are more than 5,000 residents over the age of 65 living in Marsiling.

She said: "What leads to the depression seniors face is loneliness. Even if they have a maid, they don't have anyone to talk to because their children go to work.

"Here, they find a community of support and develop friendships, and that's the most important thing."

The centre is a Ministry of Social and Family Development initiative. NTUC Health, one of the labour movement's social enterprises, provides affordable health and eldercare services that support more than 300,000 people every month.

Head of Clinical Services and Wellness at NTUC Health Leon Luai said this centre "is very much a trial".

"The intention is to replicate it, to scale it up in other constituencies. As you know, Singapore's population is ageing rapidly, so there's a great demand nationwide."

Madam Salmah said: "I like being able to mingle with the people here." She added with a smile: "If I didn't have this, I'd be sleeping at home all the time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2016, with the headline 'Wellness centre for seniors at Marsiling to keep fit, mingle'. Print Edition | Subscribe