While we lament the closure of our usual hangout places and having to stay cooped up at home during Singapore’s circuit breaker period, there is one group that has it particularly hard — the elderly. So what are some things you can do with grandparents in Singapore?
Elderly living alone are not able to go about their usual day-to-day lives, meet friends or even go to work — for those who previously did. Being stuck at home for weeks on end can heighten the feeling of isolation. It doesn’t also help that many do not have the digital know-how to navigate smartphones and tablets to make a call to relatives. Even those living at home may not have it much easier. They may quickly get bored with watching too much TV and the generation gap between children and grandchildren may not help improve social interactions despite being surrounded by family.
I’ve noticed a similar behaviour with my grandma at home. With the temple temporarily closed and gatherings restricted, her daily interactions start and end with us at home. It’s why my siblings and I have taken it upon us to keep her engaged as much as possible. If you notice your grandparents feeling a little lost during this period, here are some of the things you can do with your grandparents in Singapore without leaving your home!
Things to do with grandparents in Singapore during Circuit Breaker
1. Start by explaining the severity of Covid-19 to your grandparents
Studies by the World Health Organisation have shown older members of our society are more vulnerable to Covid-19 and the virus is especially harmful to those who have underlying health conditions. The elderly also have lower immunity and it may be harder for them to recover if they contract the virus. One of the best ways to explain the severity of the virus is to keep your grandparents abreast with the news so that they can understand that this is indeed a real and dangerous threat.
How have I been doing this at home? Honestly, my grandma is more excited about watching the news on TV than any of us and we can’t blame her seeing that’s her only source of world affairs. She’s adamant that we all sit in front of the TV at 9pm sharp to translate Channel 5 news for her. We share the confirmed case figures from the day and explain the new measures in place. And she doesn’t accept the news at face value. She’ll question and clarify the information with us, making us re-explain it to her in simpler terms if needed. Not only does this improve interaction with her but it’s also a great way to polish up my Punjabi and the few Malay phrases I employ.
2. Exercise together
Many of us are being inundated with the best fitness apps to keep us trim and fit but exercise is also one of the best activities you can do with the elderly. There are tons of online resources available you can harness to conduct simple exercises for the elderly at home. My grandma was often reluctant when it came to any kind of exercise. She was skeptical of the whole idea and very begrudgingly did it. But consistency is key and we’ve since established a routine — every alternate morning — and she’s come around to it! Remember to go slow with them and stop at the first signs of discomfort. The exercise video above is a good place to start for muscle strengthening.
2. Trace your family story!
This is one great activity to do with the elderly at home! It’s a good time to go back into the past and ask your grandparents about old times. You’ll be surprised at how much they’ve gone through and how the world has changed since. Do they have loose old photos lying around? Ask your grandparents about the photos and listen to the stories behind them. Pen a description at the back of the photo or collate them into a scrapbook album with a short snippet included.
Looking for a fun thing to do at home? Take this opportunity to draw a family tree and trace back to your ancestors’ time — find out what their names were and how they were like. Talking to your grandparents about their growing up days is one of the best things to do with grandparents in Singapore. They’d probably have tales of migration, the Japanese Occupation and early days of independence that’ll sure make for stories to appreciate and treasure for generations to come.
3. Play a game!
My siblings and I roped our grandma into playing a game of Monopoly and Snap in the past two weeks and it was so much fun! Explaining the rules of Monopoly was challenging and when it came to her turn, we guided her into explaining which property she should buy — no, we didn’t manipulate her choices and ‘stop’ her from buying the coveted Park Lane or Mayfair — and in fact, she amassed a handsome sum in the short hour and a half we played. Snap was easier to master for her, and it was fun to see grandma let loose and start smacking down on cards and yelling ‘Snap!’
Amidst playing, my grandma mentioned she used to play a game similar to kuti-kuti (a game that involves flipping your plastic tokens on top of your opponent’s pieces) while growing up. Our cue to hit up some traditional games in the coming weeks then. Whoever said there’re limited things to do with grandparents in Singapore?
4. Master their kitchen recipes!
Two weeks into the circuit breaker, I craved for something other than toast and cereal for breakfast. My grandma, on the other hand, was casually flipping aloo paratha (wheat flatbread stuffed with spiced potato). Guided by my curious nature (and a greedy stomach), I asked if she could teach me the trade.
We gathered the ingredients and got down to work on it one weekend morning. Between mashing potatoes with peppered powders, rolling the dough and laying it on a sizzling hot pan, I had myself a yummy and nutritious breakfast that’d put all avocado-cereal posts out of my mind — at least for a while.
Set a date, order fresh ingredients from the Eat and Cook collection and get cooking with your grandparents this weekend!
5. Watch each other’s favourite TV shows
My grandma has become quite a fan of Netflix’s Modern Family. She enjoys Phil’s antics and Gloria’s feisty character and the show’s climaxes and humour are not lost on her (I try with my mediocre translation skills). We’ve reached a stage where my grandma immediately comes to sit with me whenever I switch on the popular sitcom. Following a drama is one of the most fun things to do with grandparents in Singapore. With the host of Netflix Asian dramas and the array of Android TV boxes available, it won’t be difficult to get immersed in yesteryear tales of romance and adventure.
Make activities to do with elderly fun and light-hearted!
We hope this list of things to do with grandparents in Singapore will inspire you to reach out and spend more time with your grandparents even if they don’t live with you. Pick up the phone and give them a ring or video call them if possible. A little goes a long way during this time and it’s important to engage the groups of people in our household who could use a little extra attention and care.
This includes your little ones too. Keep your children excited with fun indoor activities for kids or these easy baking recipes for kids during the school break. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too! Keep yourself in good spirits and stay positive with your favourite self-care tips.