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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

She's a Vitally Important Person to four elderly people

Ms Polly Tan going through a therapy session with Mr Foong Ban Fatt, 74
The Straits Times - March 26, 2014
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She's a Vitally Important Person to four elderly people

WITH her two children grown up and more spare time, Ms Polly Tan decided to lavish her attention on people she felt really needed it.

That seemingly simple decision about two years ago has evolved to the point where Ms Tan, 52, is now a vitally important person in the lives of four elderly people.

It's an undertaking that brings enormous gratification but also enormous demands. The job can be "very tough", noted Ms Tan, who has had to move patients more than 20kg heavier than herself.

"If you don't handle it properly, both parties can get injured, but we are trained."

There have been other testing times, too. Some of her clients have died within a few weeks of their meeting, often after long bouts with cancer.

"During the time of our stay we just give them our very best."

Apart from tending to physical needs like bathing or exercise, she also tries to forge an emotional connection during her home visits.

"I talk to them, sing songs, or play games with them. A lot of them are lonely and need companionship."

One is blind and unable to walk, while most have family members who are working and cannot care for them during the day.

 Ms Tan, who works for NTUC Eldercare, visits each of her clients once or twice a week for two hours at a time.

The Straits Times understands that part-time caregivers are usually paid between $10 and $20 an hour.

But Ms Tan is not in it for the money. Instead, she likes the flexible working hours.

"I have time to do other things, like cook for my family or spend time with my children."

And her job as a caregiver allows her to spend time with those who need a listening ear.

"All of them at that age struggle," she said, "they need people to shower more care on them."


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