Dialects are an integral part of Singapore culture: Singlish is a mesh-up of the various dialects and we all know the kopitiam lingo for ordering coffee.
However, the younger generations, and I speak for myself too, are often called “bananas” or referred to as people who “jiak kantang” (eat potato) for being “yellow” with our Chinese skin colour but very much Westernised in our thinking and way of life.
Not many of my friends are able to communicate well enough to converse in dialect.
Yet, Chinese dialects are used in our everyday speech, regardless of race, and there are also Indian and Malay dialects that are lesser known today.
This Rice Media article sums up the importance of knowing our dialects quite clearly, that it is so much part of our culture that without knowing how to speak it, we lose footing as a nation.
However, apart from the seemingly drastic repercussions of not knowing how to speak our dialect, let’s get down to the basics on why we should learn our dialects – communicating with our grandparents.
I live in a three-generation household with my grandmother, and sometimes, communicating with her can be difficult.
Even with my average ability to converse with her in the Hokkien dialect, some things are just easier to say in English.
However, some seniors are not as fortunate, and we find ourselves looking at our phones when visiting our grandparents.
Having no one to communicate with them clearly and effectively can be alienating for our seniors.
Imagine going to a foreign country and being unable to talk to anyone even for a day!
It sounds extreme, but as society slowly slips into speaking only English, seniors who do not know how to will find it difficult to express themselves well, leading to miscommunication.
Being able to properly converse with our grandparents also opens many doors of information.
They hold a wealth of history, not just family stories, but also national history.
Stories of olden day Singapore and living through the Japanese Occupation become alive to us, other than just reading from the Social Studies textbook.
They become a common topic to talk about and we get to learn so much more from them, bridging the generation gap.
Those studying in the healthcare sector are also taking up dialect classes to better communicate with seniors, especially when advising them on their medical needs and health concerns.
Pharmacy students, as well as social work and medicine students are picking up the language especially as our population ages.
Taking care of their health requires us to communicate well with them, and learning dialects will be a great way to start.
In April 2011, my grandmother fell and broke her hip. She required surgery to replace it and needed a lot of care to recover.
She had to move from the hospital to the rehabilitation centre and finally back home.
It was a challenging experience.
My mother had to juggle many responsibilities like ensuring my grandma took her medication, scheduling doctor appointments, speaking with concerned loved ones, keeping the house clean and not forgetting taking care of the household and working at the same time.
I had simple tasks like cooking noodles or rice for my grandma. There were so many things to keep track of and I sometimes wished I could do more back then.
Fortunately for us, modern technology can now help a caregiver to better organise these responsibilities in a much more effective manner with the use of our phones.
Caring for our seniors is hard, but technology can help make our lives a little bit easier– so here are some practical caregiving apps and websites to check out that can help reduce the caregiver stress.
A One-stop resource app for dementia including alerts for missing seniors.
Developed by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), Dementia Friends app is a one-stop resource for dementia.
With the growing dementia-friendly Singapore movement, Dementia Friends app aims to leverage on technology and social media to provide caregivers with knowledge, resource and support.
Besides having access to information and resources on dementia such as how to manage some behaviours related to the condition (e.g. their loved one’s tendency to wander), the Dementia Friends app also allows anyone to sign up as ‘Dementia friends’ – where they will receive notifications to keep a look-out for missing seniors with dementia in Singapore when it is reported.
This app is a great tool if you’re looking for a community of support with caregiving-related responsibilities and a network of friends especially in times of crisis.
Before we get into this app, it is very important to make the decision to install a monitoring app in cooperation with your loved ones or senior’s consent.
Foscam Camera Viewer is a great camera monitoring app that can help provide the extra assurance for caregivers, giving the piece of mind that their loved ones are well cared for in their absence.
It’s easy to set up and supports many popular security camera brands. A great thing about this app is that unlike others out there, the password is not stored and is fully in your control.
To get the app, search “Foscam Camera Viewer” or download on the Apple App store or Google Play.
3. Lumosity, Elevate, Senior Games & Play HuaHee
(Cognitive & Brain App/Games)
Being a caregiver is challenging and can often lead to caregiver burnout.
A convenient way to get fast and effective stress relief is to use brain games or cognitive training apps as a distraction for our loved ones.
They’re always at our fingertips and can be used any time of day at any given situation.
Having experienced feelings of guilt at times when caring for my grandmother back then (as she would often feel helpless and will apologise to me), I find that when I gave her something to do while I helped to clean or take care of her, it provided an avenue of distraction while at the same time was benefitting her.
It may take some time to get used to it, but my goal then was to get her comfortable enough so she did not feel upset or helpless that her grandson had to take care of her.
One such game is Lumosity – an app that has various levels of cognitive challenges designed to improve memory and stimulate the brain.
Or for a real-world application such as remembering names or calculating a bill, try Elevate. For a simple yet fun game, try Senior Games which includes 8 in 1 –matching, speed, memory, perception, calculus, awareness, recognition and focus.
If you’re looking for something more tangible and localised, why not try Play Huahee games?
Play Huahee is started by Christel Goh, a Singaporean who struggled to find relevant localised activities to engage her grandma. Thus, she decided to create her own.
Play Huahee’s games and activities features popular hand drawn Singapore icons like kueh lapis, tingkat, five stones, gasing etc.,
Play Huahee offers a memory matching game, a snap edition or a newly launched rendition of bingo.
If you’re looking for help to care for your loved ones, check out the Homage app and website.
It connects caregivers with seniors seeking assistance and users can easily book different kinds of services, whether it be on-demand for an hour, or regular scheduled sessions.
A caregiver will be assigned based on the needs of the seniors themselves or their families.
Some of the key features include knowing about your caregiver before they arrive (including experiences and language), real-time notifications, and a post-summary report of the care provided after every visit.
To get the app, search ‘Homage’ or download on the Apple app store or Google Play.
6. Red Panic Button
Red Panic Button is a simple and streamlined app that serves as a medical alert on your phone.
It’s extremely easy to use and set up – just fill up the panic number or email address with a set message or SMS.
When there’s a distressing situation or an emergency, all you have to do is press the red panic button and the app will immediately send an SMS/E-MAIL containing your location on Google Map to all your emergency contacts.
If you’re concerned about the learning curve to use the app, not to worry as it has a user-friendly interface and intuitive functionality that can give the elder the independence and security.
To get the app, search Red Panic Button or download on the Apple app store or Google Play.
I hope that this article is useful for you.
My grandma has since passed on but the brief caregiving experience I had has taught me many things.
It’s important to know that we’re never alone on this caregiving journey and to take some time to rest and recharge to give the best care we can provide for our loved ones.
Keith Jonathan is a thrill-seeker and adrenaline junkie who makes the best of his creative misdirection in his narrative. When he’s not chasing the dream of a wanderlust adventure, he enjoys spending his time dabbling in unsolved mysteries, conspiracy theories and paranormal pursuits.
We create localised games and activities for seniors. It’s time to help them break away from the stress of aging. Buy our games and make them smile here.
Aging is tough. We need to find ways to bring joy back to our seniors.
Last week, my grandma had quite a bit of difficulty getting out of the room. She fell the day before. Although she had no injuries, it made her weaker.
It was an intense and stressful situation getting to the dinner table. My family crowded around her. We had our hands all around her to support her as she painfully took each step to the dining table.
She had furrowed brows and perspiration dripping down her face as she inched forward. There was alot of yelling as we tried to help her navigate. (My grandma has difficulty hearing) It was uncomfortable for all of us.
For her, in that moment, she was frustrated that she lost the ability that we all take for granted daily. The ability to move around freely.
For us, her family, watching her struggle was stressful. One filled with emotional loss. Not knowing what to do and also fear of what more this grim journey of aging would bring.
After dinner, she wanted to go back to her room and call it a day. But, I told her to stay to play bingo with us. She was reluctant but I persuaded her to.
As we played the game, she laughed when she could find items on the bingo sheet. That was the first time she laughed in two hours of being in pain and struggling with her mobility. Aging is tough for seniors and the family members.
If you can find a chance, break away from the tense situation and laugh. Find something to laugh about. Maybe it’s a game, a story from a past or a joke.
Aging is what it is.
And, we must find a way to laugh, cheer and encourage even when there’s nothing to laugh about.
We may lose our abilities physically. But, may we never lose our ability to connect emotionally and just laugh.
Buy our games for seniors here. Take the stress away for a while. Make them laugh while you can.
Any senior who is deciding to be proactive about stretching and increasing their flexibility is on the right track. However, before you start on your journey, it’s important to know where you currently stand.
The only way to do that is to assess your level of flexibility before starting. This will not only give you an idea of how much progress you’ve made after a while, but you’ll also be aware of any limitation, weak spots or other issues that you have.
The first point to note is that generally, the older you are, the less flexible you’ll be. This is often the norm unless you have been engaging in regular yoga sessions throughout your life or are a gymnast who have kept up with your flexibility training throughout the years.
Most seniors lead sedentary lives. So, it’s normal for one to be more rigid and stiff because of age.
If you are a caregiver, you can use the tips below as simple checks to gauge the flexibility of the senior(s) you are caring for.
Take a brief health inventory and ask yourself questions such as:
Do you have back issues?
Knowing what health problems you have will allow you to work around them, or alleviate them. For example, if you have knee pain, doing hamstring stretches and hip stretches may relieve the pain. They may seem unrelated, but tight muscles in these areas can cause knee pain.
Check with your doctor
Speak to your doctor and check if you have any conditions that will limit your activities. For example, seniors with back pain are often told not to engage in activities like gardening because of the strain it places on the back.
Is there any part of you that feels stiff? Maybe you wake up every morning and your neck feels tight… or after sitting for a while, stretching your legs may seem difficult. All these are hints given off by the body telling you that these areas need more attention and stretching.
Do a few simple tests
Stand in front of a mirror and do a postural evaluation. Are you hunching? Are your shoulders drawn forward?
Can you bend forward and touch your toes? If you can’t, how far can you go? Your forward flexion is a good indication of how flexible you are. Do the same with a lateral flexion and extension — in other words, a side bend of your trunk and leaning backwards to see how far back you can go.
Are you able to clasp your hands behind your back? Can your head turn from side to side with maximum range of motion?
Ideally, you should have someone nearby to spot you. Since seniors may have balance issues, having someone by their side to help them out is an excellent idea.
It’s best to write down notes on your range of motion so that you have some record to measure your progress. For example, if you can only touch your knees when you bend forward, after 3 months of daily stretching, you may be able to touch your toes. That is definitely progress.
The same applies to other movements like trunk rotations, hamstring stretches and so on. You can only know how far you have ome when you know where you used to be.
Once you embark on a stretching program, aim to do it at least 4 to 7 times a week. Stretching can be done daily. Over time you will see and feel the difference. Flexibility takes time, but with consistency, you will see results.
If you’ve read the book, ‘Stretching’, by Bob Anderson back in the 1970s, you will probably have noticed this important statement he wrote, ‘If you stretch correctly and regularly, you’ll find that every movement you make becomes easier.’
All these years later, his quote still holds true because human anatomy hasn’t changed much. The more flexible you are, the easier your movements will be.
This is especially important when you lose the vim and vigor of youth and you’re in your senior years where even reaching for the remote seems like a feat of Olympic proportions.
Even though stretching and flexibility is of paramount importance regardless of age, most people barely give it any thought. For those who do give flexibility training some thought, there are still a lot of common mistakes made and misconceptions held that don’t carry any weight.
In this article, you’ll discover how to avoid the mistakes and understand that flexibility can be improved regardless of your age.
All levity aside, let’s look at the pertinent points below.
3 Common Misconceptions
1) You’re too old to stretch
You’re never too old to start. In fact, if you’re not flexible, it’s even more important to start despite your age. You’ll notice that as the days and weeks go by, you’ll become limber, stronger and have a better sense of balance.
There are many seniors who achieve a high level of flexibility even when they’re in their golden years. The key is consistency in training.
2) You need to already be flexible
You do not need to be a contortionist to start stretching and becoming more limber. Anyone and everyone should try to stretch daily.
3) No pain, no gain
Stretching should be done in a controlled manner that is slightly challenging but NOT painful. You just want to do your best to stretch as far as you can go without feeling pain. Flexibility training is meant to be gradual and progressive. No force or pain required. This is not a Kung Fu movie where you need to do splits and high kicks.
3 Common Mistakes
1) Only stretch the ‘tight’ muscles
One of the most common mistakes people make is to only stretch the area that is feeling tight or sore. For example, if their neck hurts, they may do neck rotations and stretches and call it a day.
Your body works in synergy. Besides stretching your neck, you also need to work on your back, shoulders and hips.
Ideally, you should focus on a series of stretches that work the entire body from head to toe.
‘Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.’ – Anonymous
Unlike cardio or resistance training, you can and should stretch daily. In fact, seniors should stretch once in the morning to get their circulation going, and once at night to be all limber and ‘loose’.
Flexibility will only improve if you do it regularly and consistently. This is the cornerstone of successful stretching.
Many people do the same old stretching routine ad nauseum. Don’t make that mistake. Try and vary your stretches and do a few different ones every week. This will ensure that you target a wide range of muscles and it will also be more interesting.
To wrap things up, observe the points above and make stretching a priority in your life. Even 15 minutes a day can work wonders if applied consistently.
Kelvin Teo also writes at Holistic Health Methods — a health and wellness blog focusing primarily on the topics of holistic health, home remedies and alternative therapies.
He is also the founder of Simply Coffee Mugs — a site where he shares his passion for everything coffee and mugs.
At Play Huahee, We create localised activities and games for seniors. If you’re interested, check out our games here.