Singapore

Elderly couple fall in love over trips to the hospital

Blushing bride Mariah Abdul Hamid wore a hot pink dress.

The groom, Mr Ismail Sapuan, paced outside the room as a make-up artist applied gold eyeshadow across her eyelids.

The nerves got to them though Ms Mariah, 70, and Mr Ismail, 62, have both been married before - twice in her case, five times in his.

The couple, who had met in March at the Sunlove Seniors Activity Centre in Chai Chee, fell in love accompanying each other to the hospital for their high blood pressure and diabetes conditions.

They were married yesterday at Masjid Al-Ansar, and celebrated with friends from the centre.

Ms Mariah, a former polyclinic employee who was widowed 29 years ago, was glowing.

She said: "When he asked me to get married I was shocked. I never expected to get married at this age."

Sunlove Seniors Activity Centre Chai Chee centre manager Noraidah Haji Akib said the staff urged them to pursue their romance and to tie the knot.

"As a centre, we aim to reduce isolation among the elderly," she said.

The number of elderly people here who live on their own rose from 6,000 in 1990 to 29,000 in 2011, and is set to reach 92,000 by 2030. Singapore is also one of the world's fastest ageing societies. By 2030, one in four people will be 65 and above, double the number now.

Mr Ismail, a former ambulance driver, said: "We can take care of each other when we are sick."

Festivities for the wedding cost more than $1,000, and was sponsored by the Sunlove Seniors Activity Centre.

Ms Noraidah said: "Once people heard about the wedding, they stepped forward to help with the make-up, wedding cake and decoration. There's a clear sense of kampung spirit."

The newlyweds said they plan to tour Langkawi or Malacca.

Mr Ismail has a daughter, while Ms Mariah has three children. Her daughter, Ms Rosmawati Jamalik, 40, said she is glad that her mother has found a companion.

"They are quite cute together. They can rely on each other. She's happier now after being alone for so long after my father died of cancer."

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