Elderly have fun with technology – Y Makan Fellowship

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Barclays volunteer Brenda Wong helps answer an elderly participant’s questions about how to access her phone’s functions during the recent Y Makan Fellowship session. (Photo: Han Wei Chou)

 About forty elderly from Care Corner Toa Payoh 62B used tablets and mobile phones to participate in a customised online quiz on healthcare, heritage and culture on Wednesday (18 Apr), as part of a special technology-enhanced Y Makan Fellowship session organised by the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of Singapore.

It is the first time technology has been incorporated this way into a session of Y Makan Fellowship.

The monthly Y Makan Fellowship programme, which provides the elderly a chance to bond with volunteers over food, music and games, is being adapted to also improve the elderly beneficiaries’ comfort level with technology, in line with the national goal of keeping the elderly connected to society, and preventing them from being left behind in the digital age.

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The participants answered healthcare, heritage and culture-related questions using mobile devices during the quiz. (Photo: Han Wei Chou)

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Madam Tan (left) said she enjoyed the session with help from the volunteers. (Photo: Han Wei Chou)

“It was a wonderful experience! I am not very good with computers but I did manage to play. The volunteers showed me what to do,” said 80-year-old Madam Tan.

The volunteers from the Singapore offices of consulting firm JDX and investment bank Barclays, which supported the Y Makan Fellowship session, also found it very meaningful.

 “I think it (the quiz) was definitely good. You can put in any questions you want, because it is quite flexible. The questions were quite relevant to them (the elderly), especially those about old buildings and locations, something they have experience with, and something that the volunteers do not have,” said Barclays volunteer Brenda Wong.

Wong explained that this made the volunteers become genuinely interested in interacting with the elderly, and improved the quality of the interaction between them.

Apart from questions asking them to identify landmarks in old photos of Singapore, there were also others which quizzed the elderly about healthy living, and made them more aware the need to eat healthy.

As the session progressed, the elderly participants also became more and more excited, as those who answered the quickest got bonus points.

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Barclays volunteer Fay Robinson (back row, second from right) poses for a photo with the beneficiaries. (Photo: Han Wei Chou)

“The games were really well-organised. We are glad to be able to incorporate at least some technology into the games. The most memorable part about the session was seeing them get quite excited about the game. They wanted to grab the tablet and press the button as soon as possible!” said Barclays volunteer Fay Robinson.

Other YMCA events, such as the YMCA Silver Fiesta 2018 in November, which encourages inter-generational bonding through arts and culture activities, will also incorporate new elements to help the elderly become more comfortable with technology.

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Richard Pang (left) and wife Clara Pang (right). (Photo: Han Wei Chou)

Y Makan Fellowship participant, 80-year-old retiree Richard Pang, said he hopes that more will be done to improve the digital literacy of the elderly in Singapore.

“The elderly can do a lot if they know how to use computers and the internet,” said Pang.

Pang’s 72-year-old wife Clara Pang, shared her husband’s views, but noted that there is one thing the elderly must learn before using their mobile devices: How to connect to the wi-fi.

“I had to pay a lot of money because I forgot to connect to the wi-fi and used mobile data to watch YouTube videos,” said Mrs Pang with a chuckle. “My children scolded me!”

The YMCA is a volunteer-based Christian organisation which seeks to impact the lives of members of our community through the development of body, mind and spirit. In 2017, the YMCA of Singapore mobilised about 7,812 volunteers who contributed more than 39,630 hours to impact the lives of about 23,369 beneficiaries.

 Contributed by Han Wei Chou

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