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.
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.
Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates physical fitness system once said, “If your spine is stiff at 30, you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.”
He couldn’t have said it better. However, when you are young, you are healthier, stronger and your body is less sensitive. As age creeps up on you, you’ll lose muscle mass and your body is more sensitive to pain.
Since many people do not engage in resistance training to retard the muscle loss, the muscle fibers in the body start decreasing. They are then replaced by collagen which will get stiffer with time and reduce one’s mobility. The best way to remedy this problematic situation is with regular stretching. There are a multitude of benefits that can be accrued just by stretching for about 15 to 20 minutes a day. Let’s look at some of the benefits.
Stretching is a good form of stress relief. One may wonder what stress a senior in his or her golden years may face. After all, they’re probably retired and are living a life of relative ease, right?
Wrong. Seniors face stress too. It could be health issues, loneliness, etc. Stress affects everyone to varying degrees. Daily stretching sessions will help seniors alleviate stress.
The more limber you are, the more easily you’ll move. Climbing the stairs, bending down to pick up the newspaper, etc. will be much easier to do because your body is flexible.
Neck aches, backaches, etc. can all be relieved to some degree with daily stretching. Not only will the sessions improve one’s blood circulation, but the ‘tightness’ that causes the muscle imbalance and pain will be eased and this will bring about pain relief.
Stretching about 30 minutes prior to bedtime will help to relax the body. Of course, the stretching has to be slow and relaxed. This will help to calm your body down and allow you to sleep more easily.
Improves physical performance
It goes without saying that seniors should lead an active lifestyle. Walking, cycling, swimming, etc. can be done well into your later years. Resistance training is also a must to prevent muscle atrophy.
By being flexible, you’ll be able to perform much better at all these sports. Your body has a greater range of motion. You move faster and more easily because you’re flexible. Your athletic performance is improved when you’re limber.
Stretching regularly will help to prevent the hunched appearance that so many seniors have. Stretching helps to strengthen your muscles too. You’ll be able to stand straight without hunching.
Very often, seniors hunch because the muscles are tight. That’s why training methods such as yoga and Pilates are so helpful for seniors. They help to strengthen the body while increasing flexibility.
Prevents cramps and injuries
By being flexible, you’ll be less prone to cramps, sprains, etc. Just ensure you’re getting enough water daily so that you’re not dehydrated. By now, you should be aware of just how beneficial regular stretching can be… and the points mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. Adopt a daily stretching routine and in about 3 weeks to a month, you’ll feel the difference and never look back.
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.
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!
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
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
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
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.
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.
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!
– 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
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.
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.
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
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!
loads of cling wrap and prizes.
Start by wrapping one prize up.
Add another prize in the second layer
Continue adding other layers and other prizes in
between the layers
can make it as big as you want!
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.
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!
are many variations to this game and it’s ton of fun that requires very little
is a fun activity that focuses on self-discovery and reminiscing through shared
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
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
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?
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.
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
rules are simple, keep the balloon in the air!
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!
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.
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.