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Lessons from ASEAN students on ageing

Singapore University of Social Sciences Social Innovation Programme

Last week, the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) asked me to do a sharing on Play Huahee.

This was for ASEAN students who travelled to Singapore for SUSS Social Innovation Programme.

It was a really fun experience hearing from a room full of students from countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore.

Facilitating discussions and hearing from these students gave me a much broader perspective on ageing, in the context of ASEAN.

I shared with them about Play HuaHee’s journey in ideation, testing, prototype and launch.

Beyond this, I also facilitated discussions among the students on their personal experiences with seniors, and ageing in their own countries.

It was so much fun interacting with the students.

One of the organisers at SUSS shared with me that the objective of the programme is not for the students to come up with a solution.

The focus is really for the students to learn design thinking skills that they can bring back to their countries, and also to form strong friendships in the region.

Here are the three things I learnt through the session:

Aware of the Pains of Ageing

The students who attended this session indicated ageing as one of the top issues that they were concerned about.

When asked to identify a senior who they know and the challenges that he or she faces, they were all very ready to share either about their grandparents or seniors in school or at nursing homes.

Some talked about mobility issues, dementia and also isolation.

They were very aware of the challenges that seniors faced. It was quite obvious that these issues meant quite alot to them and they wanted to find ways to help them.

Some difficult moments include a Malaysian student sharing about how she had to watch her grandma go through dialysis.

Another student shared about “Uncle Rojak” who had to work long hours selling Rojak because he needed to care for his spouse.


Governments see Ageing as an Issue

I shared with them about the different avenues of support for seniors in Singapore and facilitated a discussion on the similarities and differences of aging in their own countries.

The students shared that there are care homes (nursing homes) for seniors in their countries as well. However, the seniors who go to care homes are either very wealthy or homeless.

The students also talked about the negative stigma around care homes — it being seen as a place where people leave their parents if they are no longer able to care for them.

The provident fund system where the government institutionalises savings for retirement is also present in some ASEAN countries.

The government also gives out cash bonuses to support seniors and the underprivileged.

Varying levels of Support

While there is support for seniors in different ASEAN countries, all the students agreed that much more can be done.

One of the students from Thailand shared with me that ageing is only seen as a big problem in Singapore because it is a developed country.

He said that there are many other issues that his country is concerned about because they are still developing.

It made me look at things slightly differently.

Singapore University of Social Sciences Social Innovation Programme
We also had a fun round of Play Huahee games together. This was accompanied with loads of screaming and laughing. It is clearly a fun activity for the young too.

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.

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“Kong simi wei?!” You need to learn dialect. Here’s how.

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.

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.

Where can I learn them?

Some places to learn dialects include the various clan associations, such as the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan and inlingua School of Languages offering classes for Hokkien and Teochew.

Viriya Community Services also offers dialect classes through their Learn My Dialect programme, or sign up at learndialect.sg.

There are loads online resources you can use too!

Alternatively, engage your grandparents and ask them to teach you, using our Play Hua Hee card games as flashcards!

It is a great way to get your grandparents involved and spend some quality time with them laughing at all the mistakes you might make. After all, that’s the aim of learning dialects, right?

Play Huahee card games comrise localised food and heritage items with English and Chinese text. The illustrations of popular food and heritage items can be used to strike up a conversation.

Christel Goh, Co-Founder, Play Huahee created a localised game for seniors in Singapore when she noticed certain changes in her grandma.

Christel was struggling to find relevant activities to engage her grandma.

This led to the birth of Play Huahee which aims to create localised games and activities as tools to encourage interaction between caregivers and seniors.

If you want to find out more about Play Huahee card games and the different ways to play, visit here.

_______________________________________

Sarah Rachel Teo is currently studying sociology and religious studies at the National University of Singapore, and her love language is food.

She loves people who give her food and loves giving food to people.

Sarah enjoys deep conversations with people and kneading bread by hand to work out those nonexistent arm muscles.

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.

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6 Time-saving Apps Caregivers Can Use for Peace of Mind

6 Apps for Caregivers in Singapore

Keith’s mum and his late grandmother

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.

1.Dementia Friends

Dementia Friends - A One-stop resource app for dementia including alerts for missing seniors.

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.

To get the app, search for “Dementia Friends” on
Google Play or Apple App store, or use the following URLs: http://tiny.cc/dfandroid or http://tiny.cc/dfios.

2.Foscam Camera Viewer by OWLR

(Camera monitoring app)

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.

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

how do you engage seniors? Here are some games you can try
how do you engage seniors? Here are some games you can try

(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 classic memory matching, charades and storytelling games with a local twist. 26 beautifully sketched local designs such as the Kueh Tutu, Clogs and Tingkat in four different game plays.
Play classic memory matching, charades and storytelling games with a local twist. 26 beautifully sketched local designs such as the Kueh Tutu, Clogs and Tingkat in four different game plays.

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.

Use the promo code App10 to get 10% off Play Huahee games this week!

For more information on activities to enjoy with seniors, check out
17 Activity Ideas For Seniors.

4. The Golden Concepts

The Golden Concepts

When my grandmother first came back home, we had to install a few things in the house, including bath handles in the bathroom, anti-slip mats and a mobility walking device.

Back then, we got most of the supplies from the local market or from hospitals – which tend to get quite costly!

Another thing was choosing the right eldercare product which was confusing at times.

Thankfully, there are e-commerce stores here in Singapore that curates eldercare products such as The Golden Concepts.

They have many products and options to choose from such as mobility tools, walking canes, wheelchairs, bathroom or bedroom accessories and even daily aids like creams, activities and gifts!

The Golden Concepts also adheres to the regulations set out by the Health Science Authority (HSA) for the supply of medical devices in Singapore.

For more information, check them out here: https://www.thegoldenconcepts.com/

5. Homage

Homage - A caregiver matching app

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.

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Just make them laugh

Aging is tough. We need to find ways to bring joy back to our seniors.

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.

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It is time to engage your grandparents. Here’s how

It is time to engage your grandparents. Here’s how.

Sarah and her grandma

Living with my grandma all my life has many advantages.

I get delicious homecooked food everyday.

I picked up the Hokkien dialect from a young age and listen to stories about olden Singapore.

But, with assignments piling up, I find myself interacting with her less than I wish to.

I often see her channel surfing on the television or nodding off on the sofa.

While television and cooking may be a good way for her to pass time, engaging with her through conversation and games make a great bonding activity and it also gets her moving and thinking.

You can do many things to engage your grandparents from telling them about your day or bringing them out for their favourite food.

If you want to kick things up a notch, you can consider trying out the Play Huahee card games.

Christel Goh, Co-Founder, Play Huahee created a localised game for seniors in Singapore when she noticed certain changes in her grandma.

Christel was struggling to find relevant activities to engage her grandma.

This led to the birth of Play Huahee which aims to create localised games and activities as tools to encourage interaction between caregivers and seniors.

It is fun for all ages.

If you already have the Play Huahee card games, here are some other ways to inject fun and variation into game play.

Introducing elements such as smell, taste, movement and multimedia involves different sets of cognitive usage, and makes the game interesting and more enjoyable!

Here are three alternative ways to use Play Huahee Matchoonary.

1. Blind Tasting

We all love food and getting tasty treats for our grandparents will surely be a great way to engage them!

Not only will it tantalise their taste buds, but also challenge them to connect the taste to the corresponding card, triggering memory.

You can easily get most of the food featured in the games from any hawker centre in Singapore.

How it works:

  1. Assign a game leader and they will prepare the food beforehand.
  2. Cut into bite sized pieces so that it will be easier for players to taste them.
  3. Blind fold all players.
  4. Place the pineapple tart, ang ku kueh, kueh tutu and kueh lapis in front of them.
  5. Let them taste the first food item. Remember to guide your grandparents by holding their hands!
  6.  After tasting, they can remove the blind fold and you can get them to guess the food they just ate from a range of Play Huahee cards.
A photo of elderly having fun with our memory matching game at Monfort Care Goodlife 16th anniversary event. It was held at Blk 15A Marine Terrace.


2. 3, 2, 1, Action!

Imagine a group of seniors pretending to flip satay sticks while screaming, “Satay! Satay!” Makes me want to join them in the game!

Incorporating hand actions and sounds into the game play adds some form of exercising and makes it entertaining.

Physical and cognitive training work hand-in-hand to ward off and slow down the decline of physical and mental function.

In a study conducted by Tan Tock Seng Hospital (2016), combining physical and cognitive training improved both mental performance and gait speed in early dementia.

Hence, dual task exercises are important for seniors to keep their bodies and mind healthy and engaged.

Keeping this in mind, we suggest incorporating some actions into the card game while saying some form of sound or word related to the card.

This game works even if you are with a big group of 20-30 seniors, or one to one with your grandparent.

How it works:

Pick out the clogs, kettle, straw fan and satay, and explain the actions and corresponding sound.

  1. Clogs: walk around and say, “clog clog!”
  2. Kettle: as if holding a kettle and cup, arms follow the Teh Tarik action and say, “whoosh whoosh”
  3. Straw fan: as if holding a straw fan, fan oneself and say, “zua ah!” which means “hot ah!” in Hokkieen
  4. Satay: flip hands, like flipping satay, and say, “satay satay!”

Have a game master to flash the cards one at a time, saying “3, 2, 1” before changing the cards.

This is a great ice breaker game when trying to engage a large group, and it also works on reaction time, monitoring how fast seniors can change actions according to the cards flashed at them.

Play classic memory matching, charades and storytelling games with a local twist. 26 beautifully sketched local designs such as the Kueh Tutu, Clogs and Tingkat in four different game plays.
Play classic memory matching, charades and storytelling games with a local twist. 26 beautifully sketched local designs such as the Kueh Tutu, Clogs and Tingkat in four different game plays.

For an easier option, you can ask the seniors to say the name of the item in the language that is most common to them instead.

For example, if “clogs” is difficult to pronounce in English, then you can also say “ka soot” which is shoes in Malay.

3. Picture Memory & Drawing

If you often volunteer with seniors, this game may help you entertain bigger groups of seniors.

This game combines light aerobic exercise through walking and encourages memory retention.

Furthermore, drawing as a form of art therapy, is a great way to practice hand-eye coordination and creativity. It is also another way of expressing themselves without using words.

How it works:

  1. Place the chosen card at one end of the room and the seniors at the other with a pen and paper.
  2. Ensure that there is sufficient space clear of obstructions for your seniors to walk.
  3. Split into teams of two to five. One player from each team walks to the card at the other end of the room and memorises it for 30 seconds or more. He or she then walks back to their team members.
  4. The player will draw out the item on the card for two minutes or more without talking.
  5. The team will have to guess what they are drawing.

This list is obviously not exhaustive, and you can use other methods to use the cards.

Our seniors have many stories to tell that we can learn from.

 Through these simple games, we get to interact and know them better while allowing them to be engaged at home.

Let us know which ones you and your grandparents enjoy, or if you have other ways of engaging your grandparents!

_______________________________________

Sarah Rachel Teo is currently studying sociology and religious studies at the National University of Singapore, and her love language is food.

She loves people who give her food and loves giving food to people.

Sarah enjoys deep conversations with people and kneading bread by hand to work out those nonexistent arm muscles.

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17 Activity Ideas For Seniors

Study shows that happier seniors tend to show a decline in activities of daily living over time. Here are 17 activities to engage seniors

Are you looking for activity ideas to engage seniors in Singapore?

You may be looking to engage someone at home, or maybe, you’re planning a visit to a nursing home or senior activity centre.

Fret Not! Here’s some activity ideas for you.

When we think of caregiving, it is often about ensuring that our loved ones’ physical needs such as safety, food and hygiene are met.

But, what about their psychological well-being?

A recent study shows that seniors who are more engaged socially, are less likely to show a decline in activities of daily living.

Before we lose the ability to communicate with our loved ones, it’s important for us to continually find ways to engage them.

We can change the way that we administer care by injecting fun activities into our routines.

Here are 17 activities to get you started on this journey!

Opt for Tabletop Activities

Table top activities are ideal for seniors who are less mobile as it requires very minimal upper body movement, while being easy to facilitate with a set of structured rules for the group to follow along.

Some popular table top games to play with seniors include Snakes & Ladders, Chess, Checkers or Scrabble. For the local table top games, try Hua Hee, Five Stones, Country Erasers or Kuti-Kuti.

Activities To Improve Cognitive Function

Cognitive engagement activities can serve multiple functions including serving as a positive distraction, improving moods and enhancing coping efficacy – all of which can help to enhance a senior’s wellbeing and reduce their health problems. Conditions like dementia or anxiety can be improved with memory games that challenge and improve mental alertness

1.Puzzles

Puzzles are great for self-enrichment and aiding in problem-solving skills, especially for seniors who want a sense of control and taking charge of something without the need of a caregiver by their side.

 Not forgetting that sense of accomplishment when they’ve placed in the final piece to the puzzle! When deciding which puzzles to prepare for seniors, go for easy-to-piece puzzles with pictures that are colourful, easy on the eye or familiar scenes like holidays or the different seasons.

2. Mahjong

A popular local game to keep the brain supercharged, Mahjong’s tile-matching game not only helps to regain physical agility in the arms when they rearrange or discard tiles, it also helps to keep the mind more mentally sharp while aiming to complete a set. It’s a low-cost leisure activity that is great for nurturing social interactions and mental training.

3. Card Games

Card games are so versatile, involving as many people at once and can be played anywhere. It’s a great way to socialise, easy to pick up and keep the mind razor-sharp. Some of the more popular games to try include Bridge, Jin Rummy, Go Fish, or local ones like Huahee Matchoonary, Huahee Snap, Happy Family or Old Maid.

Play classic memory matching, charades and storytelling games with a local twist. 26 beautifully sketched local designs such as the Kueh Tutu, Clogs and Tingkat in four different game plays.
Play classic memory matching, charades and storytelling games with a local twist. 26 beautifully sketched local designs such as the Kueh Tutu, Clogs and Tingkat in four different game plays.

When choosing card games for seniors, you might want to consider using large-sized playing cards with large prints or fonts that is friendly for the eyes and hands of seniors.

4. Draw On Your Head Game

As strange as the name of the game sounds, this is one of the more exciting activities that will be sure to energise the group and get everyone laughing no matter how great their drawing skills are.

Plus, it’s a great game to improve the motor skills and hand-eye coordination. To begin, each participant will need to hold a paper plate on their heads and follow along to the instructions given to draw! 

For example:

– Draw a line

– Draw three circles on top of the line

– Draw a sun on the top left

Activities For Creativity and Freedom of Expression

Therapeutic recreation can contribute to the health and happiness of seniors, especially when it involves their commitment, personal views and meaningful affirmation of valued self-attributes.

5. String Art Ice-cream

Study shows that happier seniors tend to show a decline in activities of daily living over time. Here are 17 activities to engage seniors

DIY activities especially art that you can take home is a fun way to inculcate your own personal flair while at the same time creating something tangible you can share with family or friends, or as a gift idea. This string art ice-cream can be cultivated as a month-long project, where individuals can regularly come in to string in each segment based on the colour scheme they’ve chosen for the ice-cream. Though this activity requires more preparation and careful guidance, it’s a really great activity to showcase one’s skills and aptitude.

Resource: https://www.amotherthing.com/diy-string-art-ice-cream-cone-with-template/

6.Painting

Painting is a great diversion activity for seniors and a channel for expressing their inner most thoughts and emotions. Besides improving hand-eye coordination and serving as an occupational therapy, creating art can help with self-empowerment too. Types of painting activities include acrylic, watercolour or oil painting.

For seniors with moderate to severe dementia with issues using a paint brush, you can perhaps hand them a sponge or get them to engage in finger painting.

7.Cross-stitching

A fun and easy activity to learn, cross-stitching is great for improving one’s concentration skills and hand eye coordination.

 It’s a great project that can keep individuals occupied for months while patiently stitching the thread onto the canvas. There are varying cross-stitch kits with patterns, shapes or photos, designed for both the elderly and beginners.

8. Folding Origami

Complete with a set of instructions and a multitude of crafts you can make, folding origami is a practical activity that can be repurposed as wall art.

It’s a wonderful hobby that can be undertaken solo or in a group with many benefits – resulting in a three dimensional form with just a piece of paper!

It also hones imagination and creativity skills as they create their colourful masterpieces.

For Greater Social Interaction & Relationship Building

Having company is often overlooked – since most of their day-to-day needs or recovery is done in isolation. One of the most effective ways we can help to alleviate their feelings of isolation or frustration is by simply showing up and providing companionship in a group setting!

9. Pass The Cling Wrap Ball

Study shows that happier seniors tend to show a decline in activities of daily living over time. Here are 17 activities to engage seniors

This group activity is an easy game to start while having the excitement of a prize at the end! Before you start this game, make the cling wrap ball first!

Prepare loads of cling wrap and prizes.

Instructions:

  1. Start by wrapping one prize up.
  2. Add another prize in the second layer
  3. Continue adding other layers and other prizes in between the layers

You can make it as big as you want!

Start by getting everyone seated in a circle and give one person a cling wrap ball, while the person to their left has a bowl and dice.

The objective – completely unwrap the cling wrap ball to reveal a prize, while the person on the left tries to roll doubles to get their turn!

There are many variations to this game and it’s ton of fun that requires very little lower mobility.

Resource: https://musthavemom.com/saran-wrap-ball-game-fun-party-game-idea-for-kids-or-adults/

10. Drum Circles

A fun idea to entice movement and rhythm in a group setting is by oragnising drum circles!

 Besides the rhythmic motion to dance or groove to, playing musical instruments can help to improve their mental alertness while reigniting their passion for music.

 It’s also a great idea to bring in various types of drums like bongos, buffalo drums, congas – utilising the different sounds, shapes or percussion instruments that everyone can try.

You can get seniors to make their own shaker instruments by putting beans into sealed water bottles too!

Resource: http://drumcircles.net/seniordrumcircle.html

11. Pic-a-box

‘Pic’-a-box’ is a fun activity that focuses on self-discovery and reminiscing through shared experiences.

Start by giving one person in the room a box filled with random pictures of the past, and get them to pull out a random picture and share anything that comes to mind.

For example, pictures of old buildings or kampong estates, food like kueh lapis or ang ku kueh, or games like gasing (spinning top) or five stones — remembering the things we enjoyed in our younger days are often fond memories to look back on.

This game can be done with Huahee Matchoonary too.

12. Horse Racing Game

This rendition of the horse racing game is a fun activity for the elderly in nursing homes or assisting living. Start by having everyone in a line as the ‘horses’ in the race.

 Then, give each each person the chance to throw a live-sized dice, followed by moving the number of spaces corresponding to the number on the dice.

 This is followed through by the rest of the group, until someone reaches the finishing line first!

13. Name 5

The ‘Name 5’ game is a simple mind-stretching game that serves as a great ice-breaker game with no set up required.

Start by giving a subject, and the group has to name five items for that subject! Some ideas for categories include favourite food, MRT stations, places in Singapore etc.

Other variations of this game is called ‘Word Chain’, where the player starts by saying a word, and the group has to name another word that relates to the previous word ie. (Ocean – beach –  sandcastles – mat – picnic – apples).

14. What’s In The Bag?

Study shows that happier seniors tend to show a decline in activities of daily living over time. Here are 17 activities to engage seniors

This is a great guessing game that can help to engage train problem-solving skills. Choose a colourful bag and put in random objects to guess like coins, utensils, keys, clothes pegs etc. You can also switch it up and place in objects that are reminiscent from their past for a more meaningful experience.

Resource: https://www.goldencarers.com/whats-in-the-bag/4702/

 Exercise activities

Light exercises such as going for walks, aqua jogging or seated chair exercises have multiple benefits like improved mobility, joint flexibility, agility, balance and much more. Here are some other activities to make it more fun and exciting!

Big groups can engage in these activities that require more upper body movement.

15. Balloon Volleyball

The rules are simple, keep the balloon in the air!

Besides challenging their agility, balloon volleyball is an engaging activity that can help seniors relive their younger days and evoke feelings of pure child-like joy.

 It’s a fun activity that fosters relationships while improving the mental and emotional well-being.

16. Seated Noodle Hockey or Floorball

A twist from the classic sport, Noodle Hockey/Floorball can be played seated making it ideal for seniors with low mobility. Start by giving out different coloured pool noodle floating aids to each team (to serve as the sticks) which you can get from Daiso, and line the participants in a row on each side.

You can use soft plastic beach balls or balloons as the puck, and get each team to score a goal at the end! To make it even more exciting, toss in a few balls or balloons at once and watch the adrenaline kick in!

Resource: http://silverinnings.blogspot.com/2009/08/noodle-hockey-keeps-seniors-in-game.html

17. Beanbag Toss

Prepare different sized baskets and assign points to each basket. The smaller baskets would be more difficult and thus, have higher points.

In this game of bean bag toss, seniors can score points by getting their bean bags to land in the basket with varying target sizes. It can be played both standing or sitting and are particularly suitable for those who may not be intrinsically motivated to get some exercise.

With so many different ability levels, it can be easily adjusted for seniors to work on different skills like balance, upper lifting, hand balance and target aiming.

Featured Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

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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 engage them socially. Buy our games here.

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Is elderly isolation a growing problem?

Is elderly isolation a growing problem?


Elderly isolation definitely seems to be a growing problem.

Last week, there was a news report that elderly suicides was at an all-time high.

An extract from Channel NewsAsia states, “The number of elderly aged 60 and above who took their own lives peaked at 129 last year, the highest since suicide tracking started in 1991.”

The total number of suicides last year was 361. This means that out of every three suicides, one was an elderly.

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) is also encouraging seniors to call into their hotline because they see a drop in seniors calling in and they are concerned about elderly isolation.

According to the Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Study in 2012 by the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, one in five elderly persons in Singapore aged 75 and above show signs of depression.

There is also projected to be 83,000 seniors living alone by 2030.

It is clearly a big issue. This makes it more important for us to be more mindful of the seniors around us and watch for red flags.

These red flags are symptoms of suicidal tendencies to watch out for:

  1. Making preparations for death (e.g. writing a will or giving away cherished belongings)
  2. Sudden withdrawal from social interactions
  3. Self-neglect in terms of low personal hygiene and a dirty living environment
  4.  Struggle with a recent life crisis (e.g. the death of a loved one or excessive medical bills.)

Sources:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/elderly-depression-lonely-dementia-chronic-illness-treatment-10159670

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/suicides-elderly-singapore-all-time-high-sos-10565002

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