A wheelchair-bound elderly woman has been forced to buy hot water at the coffee shop near her house, when the water in the containers her home care helpers fill runs out, since she is unable to reach the kitchen tap at her studio apartment.
Facebook user Yap Ching Wi shared the senior citizen’s plight on social media. In a post published yesterday (1 July), she revealed:
“An elderly lady on wheelchair in a HDB elderly studio cannot reach her kitchen tap and so cannot boil water at will. She can only drink water from containers that home care helpers fill up on Tues and Thurs. If she wants hot water on weekends, she has to buy from coffeeshop downstairs.”
Revealing that the elderly woman cannot afford to pay the S$8000 that is required to get contractors to lower the height of her kitchen sink, Ms Yap continued: “What angers me is that rigid HDB regulation robs her independence resulting in her suffering more and the state wasting unnecessarily money on home care.
“She cannot afford the $8000 needed for contractor to lower her kitchen sink height, and then to restore when she gives back the elderly studio to HDB. Its an elderly flat! There are only two ways to return the flat: death or move to nursing home.”
Calling on policymakers and Parliament to do better, Ms Yap expressed her disappointment at the situation. Asserting that it “makes no sense that a regulation which is so easily adjusted is preventing an elderly lady who cherishes her independence in a wheelchair to now completely depend on others,” Ms Yap said:
“And it is ridiculous that an elderly flat cannot cater to wheelchair users. Can you imagine drinking water that is 5 days old and not being able to make a cup of coffee or tea at will? Her home has become cruel to her, all because of a regulation!”
Asserting that the Government must undertake policy and structural changes so that the elderly can retain their independence and live more dignified lives, Ms Yap said:
“How many frail elderly are suffering alone? Why must we carelessly make life even harder for them? And our carelessness cause them the label of pushing up care costs. Is it because they are poor?
“Age-care is complex and requires holistic intervention. We pride ourselves on being a smart nation and flaunts Pioneer Generation packages but the poor and frail, having no voice for themselves, continue to suffer unnecessarily.
“Policy and structural changes must happen and they must be coordinated among agencies. If restoring the dignity and independence of elderly poor is not enough of a reason, then think about money, that we can reduce long term care cost. Come on, policy makers and parliament, surely we can do better, and we must!”
Ms Yap updated her post to add that some friends who have experience in caring for elders have offered suggestions as to how the issue the senior citizen is facing can be eased. She has sent these suggestions to her friends who are directly helping the elderly lady.
Urging policymakers to listen to social workers who have experiences on the ground, Ms Yap said: “I know many social workers on the ground doing their best to advocate so all the more policy makers must listen to social workers and make the change.
“I had wanted to highlight that rigid regulations and inflexible attitude creates so much unnecessary suffering to people who are already suffering so much. As a nation, we must do better.”
Read her post in full here: