In life, there will be unexpected things that people are not prepared or ready for. The pandemic is a good example. It has resulted in families stranded and separated from each other for extended periods of time. The group that is most vulnerable are senior citizens who are dependent on others for help and those who live alone or together with their elderly spouse with no children or relatives within close proximity.
Malaysia’s population is ageing and the numbers tell the story. According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), there were 2.3 million (7.1%) people above the age of 65 years old in 2020. By 2022, this number is expected to double, rising to 14.5%.
Malaysia is expected to be an aged nation by 2045 according to the United Nations Populations Project.
Young People To Step Up!
Lydiawati Rusli, an entrepreneur home baker saw the need as an opportunity to care for the elderly. She stumbled on an advertisement on social media from Homage, a website and app that offers a suite of home and nursing care services to the elderly.
Despite not having an official license in the healthcare sector as a doctor or nurse, it didn’t hinder Lydiawati from signing up. She felt deeply motivated to want to help the elderly in any way possible.
I knew that this was where I was going to put my postgraduate knowledge in Advance Care in Dementia to good use. We will all be old one day so why not pay it forward and hope that I will be treated with the same kindness when I am old. – Lydiawati Rusli
As a caregiver with Homage, Lydiawati escorts and accompanies senior citizens for healthcare appointments, Covid-19 vaccine appointments and home care services. This 37 year old millennial feels strongly for the elderly and during the pandemic, she noticed some of the challenges this demographic faced.
Many of them do not know how to use apps and find it confusing to use digital devices. I went to the home of an elderly couple in their 80s to download the MySejahtera app and register them for their vaccines. This couple’s children are all overseas. – Lydiawati Rusli
Something as simple as a few clicks of a button may seem like a no-brainer for young adults, but for the elderly, it’s a complex maze that’s difficult to navigate. Lydiawati also expressed her concern for senior citizens in rural areas. As most healthcare escort and support services are concentrated in urban areas, she hopes that people will be more civic-conscious and caring, especially to the elderly folk in rural areas.
Orang kampung needs to be helped because they may not have access to social media and do not have updates on important information. Some of them do not even have digital devices. Maybe there can be more house-to-house visits or services like Homage even in rural areas. – Lydiawati Rusli
With the vaccine rollout picking up, Lydiawati has been ferrying and helping senior citizens get to vaccine centres to get their shot. Thankfully, her experiences with vaccine appointments have been smooth sailing.
Everything is very orderly and especially for senior citizens who are wheelchair-bound, they get priority with the express lane. I helped an uncle in his 80s recently and he was very thankful as his children are in Malaysia but not close by and were not able to cross districts to help. – Lydiawati Rusli
#kitajagakita Means “Just Help!”
A year plus into the pandemic and many lessons have been learnt. As a society we are now more resilient and hopefully more adaptable to changes. As a community, we now bend together to get through this season because many of us are far away from family and those we usually depend on.
A civic-consciousness has been revived and as a nation, we will survive this pandemic if we look out for each other despite being confined by MCO restrictions.
If we can help in whatever way, we need to just do it. If we can reach others and raise awareness on social media, we need to just do it. There is no reason not to help. Even the smallest act is a great help to someone else. – Lydiawati Rusli
Where do you start? Like Lydiawati, an advertisement caught her attention and she acted on it. Don’t wait too long to offer help. Pay attention to the people around you. There are needs everywhere. Feel a tug in your heartstring or if you stumble on a piece of news, act on it.
Wake up every day and think of something good you can do and just do it! – Lydiawati Rusli
You can also extend help to senior citizens, not within your reach. If you know of any senior citizens living in Klang Valley, Penang or Johor who could use some company and assistance getting to vaccine centres and back home safely, consider engaging Homage’s vaccination escort services for peace of mind.