Volunteers brave haze to continue elderly outreach

Some volunteers are making sure the elderly who live alone in Singapore get what they need to cope with the haze situation.

This includes educating them on the precautions to take, and equipping them with face masks.

Wee Poh Leong, 63, doesn’t like wearing a face mask even though the PSI skyrocketed over the past few days. He says wearing the mask makes it difficult for him to breathe.

“I’m not worried because I don’t go out much,” he said.

He lives alone in a rental flat in the Henderson area, and elderly Singaporeans like him are the ones Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) want to reach out to during this period.

Lions Befrienders, for example, have been touching base with 2,800 such elderly Singaporeans across the island.

Volunteers visit them at their home to make sure they are okay, especially those with heart or lung problems, or who have asthma. These volunteers bring masks to the homes as well.

Goh Boo Han, executive director of Lion Befrienders, said: “We have sent out a letter to all our volunteers to continue visiting the seniors, especially in this difficult period. But we also stress that they should look after their own health, and if they feel the haze situation is causing them discomfort, they should refrain from visiting for the time being. But they should let us know, so that our staff can visit the seniors instead.”

The VWO has already distributed 3,600 masks to residents and elderly who go to its six senior activity centres, should they need them.

Elderly Singaporeans who live alone may not have anyone to advise them on the precautions to take during the haze. So, centres like these are essential in equipping them with information they need to get through this period.

Jean Quek, a volunteer with the Henderson Aged Reach-Out Programme, said: “Two days ago, the haze just started, so we told them about the haze and what PSI is, and how to drink lots of water, and asked them to keep indoors as well.”

Mrs Quek added that some 60 elderly residents go to their centre to take part in activities every week.

It is hoped that these efforts will go some way to help vulnerable elderly cope with the smog.

Source: CNA