by Growing Needs | Nov 13, 2023 | Caregivers Concern, Caregiving
Consider starting your day depending on someone else for even the most basic tasks, such as brushing your teeth or turning on a light switch. Now, reflect on the reality that in Singapore, more than one hundred thousand individuals encounter this daily struggle. These individuals are an integral part of our community and include elderly individuals or those with disabilities who rely on wheelchairs for mobility.
As our population continues to age rapidly, it is projected that a significant portion of this group will be comprised of elderly wheelchair users. Unfortunately, these individuals encounter numerous obstacles when attempting to venture outside their homes – ranging from limited transportation options to a lack of accessible ramps and facilities designed specifically for wheelchairs.
As a result, the immense difficulties encountered while traveling lead them to prefer staying within the confines of their own homes. Imagine experiencing a similar level of inconvenience in your everyday routine and how it would affect you. Numerous people grapple with home decorations that fail to meet their needs, whether they are too tall or too short for optimal comfort.
If the structures are excessively tall, individuals may need to uncomfortably stretch their hands and body; on the other hand, if they are excessively short, it can force individuals to bend their bodies too much while being restricted by wheelchairs. Additionally, entrances to toilets and kitchens often have built-in curbs that create accessibility difficulties. It is important for us to acknowledge and value these conveniences that we often overlook in our own homes.
It is disheartening to witness the difficulties faced by senior individuals who rely on wheelchairs to access the necessary mobility for their overall well-being. This concern becomes even more concerning when taking into account the rising trend of older adults living independently. Over the course of just 15 years, there has been a nearly threefold rise in the population of self-reliant individuals aged 65 and above.
Their ability to perform basic activities like washing, feeding, dressing, and moving without assistance is greatly influenced by the difficulties they face in their own homes. A compassionate staff member from COMNET Senior Service highlighted these concerns. The challenges encountered at home can have a profound effect on the independence of elderly wheelchair-users when it comes to carrying out
The independence of an individual can be significantly affected by their inability to perform daily activities, which also brings concern to their family members. However, there are multiple avenues that can be explored to enhance the home environment for senior wheelchair-users.
Consulting occupational therapists who specialize in recommending personalized home modifications is one option that can greatly improve the usability of houses and promote independent living among elderly individuals. It should be noted that financial considerations may arise during this process; nevertheless, there are various resources available such as the Seniors Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) and the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) program to assist with funding these modifications.
As time goes by, individuals who rely on wheelchair services often experience changes in their physical abilities caused by muscle weakening and degeneration. As a result, they may need additional adjustments or even completely new mobility equipment.
Unfortunately, this assistance can be disheartening for older adults who view the process of changing equipment as burdensome and unproductive in the long run. Therefore, it would be more beneficial to allocate extra funds towards making lasting changes that specifically cater to the needs of our elderly wheelchair service users.
When you go to someone’s house and they use a wheelchair, lending a hand with rearranging furniture can greatly improve their quality of life. It allows them to move around more easily and enhances their daily experience.
It is crucial that we familiarize elderly individuals who rely on wheelchairs with programs like SMF and EASE. Many of them may not know about these programs or face challenges in accessing them due to limited literacy skills. However, even these seemingly insignificant actions can make a significant impact on their lives.
As a community, we hold the power to develop a deeper understanding and empathy towards elderly wheelchair users. Just stepping outside their homes is already an accomplishment for them, so we can improve their outdoor experiences by granting them priority access on ramps or in elevators, effectively minimizing any distress they may encounter.
It is imperative that we acknowledge the pioneering role played by these wheelchair-using seniors, who have made remarkable contributions to our nation’s progress. If they were our own grandparents, without a doubt, we would wish for them to age gracefully and find contentment in their later years. We must not underestimate the influence we can wield – both you and I possess the ability to actively contribute towards achieving this aim.
Unfortunately, seniors may have trouble doing things they love and being independent because they have trouble moving. This can make them feel alone, sad, and less healthy. Many older people do less because they think they can’t do as much physically. But it’s important for them to keep doing things so they can age well and stay healthy.
Singaporean seniors who rely on wheelchairs encounter various difficulties when it comes to moving around. Public spaces can be equipped with wheelchair ramps and lifts to address this issue. By recognizing the hurdles faced by those with limited mobility and taking proactive steps to address them, we can greatly improve their overall mental and physical health of our seniors.
Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.