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July 28, 2015

Elder abuse? Seek proper help, avoid 'public trial' (SINGAPORE)

The Lower Delta Road incident of a woman caught on video slapping her mother is unfortunate, and Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin has highlighted the equally unfortunate "public trial" of the individuals concerned ("Public trial of family harsh: Tan Chuan-Jin"; last Saturday). 

In January, several concerned residents in my neighbourhood informed me that an elderly woman had been sleeping in the void deck of a block for several nights. As a member of the residents' committee (RC), I went to investigate. Older members of the RC and neighbours knew about her, and the police had been involved, more than seven years ago, to get her back home to sleep.
There were many theories about what caused her not to want to sleep at home, including abuse by her daughter and boyfriend.
Like what Mr Tan said regarding the Lower Delta Road case: "Sometimes, details may be half-accurate or inaccurate."
In the case of the elderly woman in my neighbourhood, the appropriate thing to do was to seek professional help, and we did. With the help of the RC adviser, a social worker was assigned to her case.
The social worker met the woman's daughter and her boyfriend. She also spoke to the concerned neighbours who have been feeding the elderly woman.
The social worker was able to ascertain the facts of the case and, based on the information, she was able to get the appropriate social service agencies to help a Singaporean in troubled circumstances. The social worker was also able to give professional advice to the neighbours on how best to help the elderly woman to eventually return home to sleep.
We are still working on this case but we managed to avoid a "public trial" of the individuals concerned as that would have put further stress on the already-fractured family relationships.
Liu Fook Thim
SOURCE:    AsiaOne News


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