Tuesday, November 27, 2018

No Mountain’s Too High For Nursing Home Residents


Climbing Singapore’s Mount Faber is nothing like scaling Mount Everest, but it may as well have been just as challenging for 94-year-old Uncle Nonis. While he can walk short distances, Uncle Nonis uses a wheelchair when covering longer distances.

Age and mobility issues did not daunt Uncle Nonis, a resident at ECON Nursing Home (Upper East Coast). He had his sights set on walking up the 0.6km path to the top of Mount Faber.

With six other residents, he took part in the “Go for Your Mountain” (GYM) challenge, an annual event organised by Empower Ageing on 29 September, in conjunction with the International Day of Older Persons. Empower Ageing is a charity that enables seniors to age well, realising life to the fullest.

Uncle Nonis spent three months building his walking confidence, improving his cardiovascular ability and strengthening his lower body muscles. The programme was conducted by Empower Ageing and ECON’s rehab team.

Here is what they did during the preparation.

1. Obstacle course:
- Build confidence in walking ability
- Climbing up and down stairs,
- Changing directions of movement, and
- Perform a variety of lower limb functional power exercises while holding on to a handle bar in a circuit training format

2. Walking relay:
- Improve cardiovascular endurance
- Walk as far as possible along a 10m walkway

3. Power training programme
- Evidence-based programme to strengthen his lower body muscles.
- Incorporated into various segments of the programme.
- Helped Uncle Nonis build power into his movements such as for walking uphill and getting up from the chair.  

On the day of the climb, four trained ECON members took turns to support Uncle Nonis as he made slow but determined steps up the slopes and stairs. He and his friends completed the challenge at the peak of Mount Faber to cheers from supporters.

Uncle Nonis had another surprise waiting for him at the peak - a team of musician volunteers.

Uncle Nonis has always loved music, and although he is not musically trained, he had dreams of conducting an orchestra. He shared this with ECON staff before, and they turned Uncle Nonis’ dream into reality on this day. He conducted the “mini orchestra” of musician volunteers on their violins, entertaining the crowd with a few familiar local songs.

“Initially I was a little afraid and nervous as there were many people at the GYM challenge and I was not sure if I could reach the summit. I pushed forward with the support of ECON staff and made it to the peak. I felt really happy because I had such a great sense of achievement. It was nice to be at the peak with my friends enjoying the music and the breeze.”

Uncle Nonis is now able to get on the parallel bar, walking frame, and handheld bar without much assistance. Next on his challenge - the treadmill!

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