As part of IMU Cares initiative to improve health and wellbeing of the elderly community, a visit to Rumah Charis was made with an aim to raise awareness on the risk of fall and its prevention among the elderly residents living in the Home. The visit was led by Dr Liew Yun Khoon from the Department of Life Science, School of Pharmacy. Dr Valliammai Valliyappan, Dr Tan Ee Xion, Dr Huma Shahzad, Dr Haresh Kumar Kantilal, Dr Yam Wai Keat, Dr Then Yoon Yee and Liew Siew Wah were among the team members.
Rumah Charis Elderly home at OUG is one of IMU‘s community partners. In a previous visit (January 2022), we found that fall among the old folks has happened before. This could be considered to be main concern for us to pay attention to, because it is also one of the health problems faced by the elderly.
The cases of fall at Rumah Charis are not high, however, a fall might have serious consequences to old people, such bone fracture, or any life-threatening conditions. Hence, our team decided to conduct this activity to raise awareness among the seniors about the risk of falling. At the same time, this initiative provides opportunities for staff to learn and increase their knowledge and understanding on fall risk among the elderly based on an actual situation or practice on the ground.
The team was greeted by the elderly residents who were keen to listen, discuss their daily life routine and share their health problems whilst being engaged with the team to find possible solutions.
Dr Valliammai Valliyappan delivered her talk on risks associated with fall among the elderly residents as well as sharing and discussing on fall prevention tips with them.
As most of the elderly residents understand only Cantonese, Dr Yam Wai Keat and Dr Tan Ee Xion helped to translate and communicate with them. Most of the elderly residents found it comfortable to communicate in their own language and engage with the team at the same time.
After the talk, a simple assessment was conducted to identify the risk of fall in elderly folks using the Timed Up & Go (TUG) test. All old folks (age 50 to 80) gladly took the test. The findings showed that only five elderly folks were identified to have a substantial risk for falls and also have the potential to develop Parkinson’s disease.
The team members had escalated the issue to the caregivers and had advised them to pay extra attention and monitor the five elderly folks. For the rest of the elderly residents, there were no major risk factors identified and this was a big relief for them and their carers.
The visit continued with teaching simple yet fun daily exercises for the elderly folks guided by Dr Haresh. These exercises could be performed while sitting on the chair and was only for about 15-20 minutes.
A question-and-answer session ensued after the exercise activity. It was a joy to see the elderly folks being engaged with various questions regarding their health, diet, sleep as well as seeking medical condition advice from the team. The session continued for 30-40 minutes, and all concerns raised by the elderly folks were discussed and advice were given appropriately.
The visit ended with the team members and elderly folks sharing their joy and laughter over a cake and fruit platter prepared by Liew Siew Wah.
Next steps, the team hopes to have students join in to engage the elderly community at various levels to ensure that care and engagement with the elderly folks continue.
Written by Dr Huma Shahzad, Human Biology Department, IMU
Photographer: Dr Then Yoon Yee, Pharmaceutical Chemistry Department, IMU