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Engaging our Elderly: How can we continue to reach out to the elderly in our community?


Senior Participants with their Newly Built Terrariums; Image Credit: Group AID


As our society advances, it’s essential to ensure that no one gets left behind — especially the elderly who have contributed significantly to our nation’s development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four elderly in the world experiences social isolation. In Singapore, a separate study found that elderly Chinese individuals are now more vulnerable to social disconnection than ever before.

 

The challenges of social isolation were amplified during the Covid-19 pandemic, with restricted social interactions heightening feelings of loneliness. Considering these concerning statistics, it’s crucial to prioritize reaching out to the elderly in our community. This article thus uncovers 3 ways that we can connect with the elderly in our community.


1.     Engage the elderly through art workshops

We can encourage the elderly to participate in group artistic workshops. Art workshops are an excellent avenue to gather and explore a new activity with new friends. This increases social interaction among the elderly in our society, reducing feelings of social isolation.

 

Simultaneously, participating in the arts has shown to provide various benefits for the elderly — such as improved cognitive function, memory and self-esteem from reduced stress. These benefits enhance seniors’ quality of life while reducing their sense of loneliness. By tapping into their creative potential, the elderly can discover new interests and hobbies, leading to a more fulfilling and enriching life.

 

Group AID provides simple yet engaging art workshops that are suitable for the elderly, such as balloon sculpting workshops. Through these workshops, the elderly can learn a new hands-on skill, twisting and molding balloons to create their desired sculptures. While workshops enhance social interaction and seek to engage the elderly, participants also enjoy the fun process, forgetting their worries and relieving their boredom.

Senior Participants with their Completed Balloon Sculptures; Image Credit: Group AID


2.     Participate in Community Outreach Programs

Many community centers and organizations such as Care Corner Singapore (CCS) have community outreach programs that provide opportunities for socialization and support for the elderly. These programs consist of regular gatherings for activities like morning walks, enjoying breakfast and coffee together, or even outings to visit cultural sites, which allow seniors to engage in meaningful activities and connect with fellow elderly and other members of the community. For example, Care Corner Singapore has Active Ageing Centers which are spaces for seniors to engage in social and recreational activities like karaoke and games to enhance their well-being and help them to stay active. To support organizations with their community outreach programs, we can volunteer to help with such activities at these organizations and connect with the elderly on a personal level. Together, we can make a positive difference to the lives of the elderly in our community and enhance their quality of life.


Senior Individuals Participating in an Activity Together; Image Credit: Care Corner Singapore


3.     Provide Technology Training to Help the Elderly Keep Up with Digitalization

Today, most daily tasks have been digitalized. From navigating online communication channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook, to using online payment methods such as GrabPay to pay for food, and even online shopping, we are doing things very differently from what the elderly are used to.

 

Recognizing the increasing importance of technology in our society, it is imperative to educate the elderly on how to use technology, to bridge the digital divide and ensure that they are not left behind. Important topics include basic skills such as using smartphones, accessing online resources such as Google and YouTube, and connecting with loved ones through text messages and video calls.

 

To play our part, we can encourage our loved ones to participate in technology training workshops. For example, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) offers a Seniors Go Digital program to help the elderly learn basic digital skills and knowledge, such as using a smartphone to communicate, fulfilling digital transactions, and even learning online safety and security tips. Alternatively, as individuals, we can take the initiative to teach the elderly around us similar skills. This would help them to feel more supported by their loved ones. By empowering our elderly with key digital skills, we can help them to keep up with technology and connect with their loved ones online, which reduces their feelings of isolation.

A Senior Learning Digital Literacy with A Guided Staff Member; Image Credit: IMDA

 

In conclusion, as we move towards a digital society, let us remember to also care for the elderly members in our community who may be facing challenges of social isolation. From engaging in artistic workshops to participating in community outreach programs and even digital literacy workshops, we can alleviate the feelings of social isolation among the elderly and empower them to remain connected to society. By coming together as a community and taking proactive methods to support our elderly population, we can build a more inclusive and compassionate society where everyone, regardless of age and background, feels valued.


To volunteer with Group AID’s art workshops, or to simply enquire more, fill in this form or contact us at askgroupaid@gmail.com today!

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