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Me as a Senior Care Associate

5 years ago / ntuc / worklifesg

Playing nurse... not in THAT way.

A flat in Jurong East St 32

Growing old scares me.

I mean, besides the fact that I might get wrinkly and/or have age spots (you won't believe this, but I just spent the next 2 min after typing that line inspecting my arms lol), I'm afraid that I'll die alone and nobody will find my body till 2 years later or something. The good thing, I suppose, is that I'm not a fan of cats so I won't have any of them eating my dead body...

Enough about this disturbing image - btw according to WHO, fear of ageing may shorten your life. A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to play nurse (not in THAT way sheesh...) by shadowing NTUC Health [email protected] Senior Care Associate, Geok Bee, in one of her home-based care sessions to 94-year-old Mdm See Lwee.

And well, that got me thinking about what's going to happen to me when I'm old-er.

Mdm See Lwee is your typical grandma figure, extremely obstinate (but will give in to Geok Bee eventually after much cajoling)... she doesn't like to be cold and insists on wearing all her sweaters despite Singapore's climate. She likes her things neat and tidy and while incredibly fit for her age, she gets extremely paranoid about falling ill and sees the doctors in her neighbourhood almost every other day.

While some of the others present at the session felt that Mdm See Lwee reminded them of their grandmother, I felt that I was looking into my future. Sweater weather in Singapore? Constant paranoia about being sick? Cleanliness freak? That sounds like me alright.

Bottles of Dom placed beside Mdm See Lwee's bedside because she has a unique habit of waking up in the middle of the night to spend an hour or so applying the alcohol all over her body

Mdm See Lwee lives alone with her helper in her flat at Jurong East. Her children do not live with her but her son comes by a few times a week to check on her. Senior Care Associate Geok Bee heads over twice a week for 2-hour sessions where she provides home therapy and personal care services such as checking her blood pressure and physiotherapy exercises for Mdm See Lwee.

If I am allowed only one adjective to describe Geok Bee, it would be patient. She repeatedly advised Mdm See Lwee that there is no need to always consume medicine (in particular, paracetamol) if she isn't feeling sick and despite Mdm See Lwee's stubbornness and excuses, gently urged her to do her physiotherapy exercises.

My role then?

Besides chatting with Mdm Swee Lwee (or rather, attempting to... in my very limited Hokkien), I also tried to assist in some health-related care tasks such as measuring her blood pressure.

After the 2-hour session, I concluded that Geok Bee's job isn't as simple as "go and check on them only mah". She has a few patients whom she visits two to three times each a week and besides caring for them, she also has to do some household chores to ensure that their homes are well-kept and clean. For some seniors with dementia, Geok Bee will engage in mentally stimulating activities with them too. It is not necessarily meant for the elderly only - some of Geok Bee's are middle-aged stroke patients who need home therapy and assistance.

And more importantly, it's also about providing companionship.

Especially for these elderly who may be living on their own or are often alone at home in the day while their children are at work, this companionship and checking-in may mean a lot to them.

This home care service is provided by NTUC Health [email protected] initiative under the NTUC Social Enterprises group which is focused on helping Singaporeans manage the increasing cost of living, ageing, health, providing better education for our children and essentially the fear of being left behind.

Prior to this, I didn't know much about NTUC Social Enterprises (except this Facebook video re a love story happening at the FairPrice supermarkets lol) nor anything about this home care service - in fact, when they told me about this job shadow stint, it was only when they emphasised that it's home care that I realised, shit, I need to go to somebody's HOUSE!

Basically, [email protected] provides a comprehensive range of quality and affordable care services delivered by doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and trained caregivers in the comfort and privacy of your own home and snooping around their website reveals that rates start at $19 per hour.

It's not cheap-cheap I know lah, but frankly, it ain't that expensive either.

I mean, it's definitely a service I can consider when I get older and crankier and need somebody to help me shower and talk me out of my compulsive need to rearrange my chopsticks until they are all aligned and facing the same direction...

And more importantly, check on me so that I don't die alone. And have my neighbour's cats eat my dead body wtf.