Singapore

More than half live alone

An estimated 50 to 60 per cent of senior citizens live alone in the one-room rental flats at Beach Road and North Bridge Road, said Mrs Lucy Tan, centre manager of voluntary organisation Peace Connect.

She explained that although the HDB's rules require two people to register for a rental flat, some still live alone because of different circumstances.

For instance, a co-tenant might have died or is in a nursing home. Other times, the co-tenant could work long hours, or the flatmates may be caught in a conflict and choose to stay away.

About 800 seniors are registered with Peace Connect, which operates from the ground level of Block 8, North Bridge Road.

MEALS AND MAIL

The organisation provides an array of services, ranging from mail reading to a meal programme.

But there are still around 400 to 500 seniors living within the radar of the centre who choose not to join for various reasons.

For those who live alone, neighbours are the "best bet", said Mrs Tan, who has over two decades of experience volunteering in the area.

The centre is also in charge of the alert alarm system, which is fitted in the homes of more than 600 residents, to be used in case of an emergency.

"We can visit them often but it's difficult to pre-empt (an emergency). Life is so fragile," she said.

Often, the challenge they face when it comes to helping the elderly is to "break through their barriers of self-reliance".

She said: "Many of them belong to a generation which have survived on their own for a long time.

"They have their pride and will say 'we are poor but we are not beggars'."

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