After acquiring some free time whilst pursuing his Master’s degree, Aswan bin Husain enrolled on Teman Malaysia, a company whose primary purpose is to provide companionship and caregiving services for the elderly, pregnant women, mothers of small children and differently-abled people.
The 25-year-old was inspired by a mutual friend’s efforts to aid the elderly and wanted to get involved as well. Under Teman Malaysia, Aswan was able to get up close and personal, helping the elderly get to their health appointments, dialysis treatments, COVID vaccinations, and even just spend time with them.
You never know what you will learn when you spend time with the elderly. Sometimes you will hear their stories and experiences throughout life. Then sometimes you will witness their silent struggles. – Aswan
Giving Sight Back To An Elderly
Aswan shares a story of an elderly pakcik living in Semenyih who was losing his eyesight due to old age.
After we had spent some time together, the Uncle confessed that all he saw was blurred images. His heart longed to read the Quran but was too shy to ask for new glasses from the old folks home. He had silently struggled to see for over a year. – Aswan
Aswan was so moved by the pakcik’s story that he decided immediately he was going to help him. He brought the pakcik to an optician, got his eyes tested and purchased a pair of glasses for him.
When the pakcik read the Quran with a clear vision, he was overwhelmed and moved to tears by his newfound sight as a result of the kindness of a young man.
I have never felt this appreciated before. You realise it doesn’t take much to make their day, it’s the little things that mean the most. ~Aswan
Helping The Elderly Become Digitally Literate
After six months of freelancing for Teman, Aswan realised that many senior citizens did not have basic ICT knowledge despite living in urban Klang Valley. In this day and age, mobile phones, laptops and general use of the internet are important tools of communication. However, many from the elderly demographic are not digitally literate.
A 2016 survey on ICT usage amongst the elderly stated that whilst they did have mobile devices, the main purposes were simply to make and receive phone calls, send and receive SMS, and save contact information. Those that had never used a smartphone before, although willing to try, perceive the device to be difficult to use.
This study aligned with scenarios that Aswan has personally experienced. He mentioned that several old folks in Rawang only used their phones to call their families. This community used prepaid reloads and many did not have smartphones. Aswan realised that they were very interested in learning new things – just at a slower rate.
I think it’s important for them to have basic ICT skills and learn to use the internet. Especially during lockdowns, where they cannot afford to keep going out and purchasing reloads. It’s better and cheaper to communicate with their friends and family through the internet since so many young people are online. The last thing we want them to feel during lockdown is lonely. – Aswan
And he is not wrong. According to Professor Philip George, a committee member of Malaysia Healthy Ageing Society, stated that isolation and loneliness, which are more likely during the lockdown, can trigger anxiety and early-onset depression.
The older population are at a higher risk of losing friends and family members. Partnered with a high risk of developing ‘empty nest syndrome’ when their children leave home, the elderly are prone to depression and anxiety disorders. Those in care homes or nursing homes seem to have a higher risk of depression and anxiety.
With the elderly, you have to be alert at all times. It’s not something to take for granted, but the experiences with them make the work worthwhile. I will definitely be continuing under Teman, and urge others to join as well. – Aswan