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TAKING HEART

Tackling tough issues with seniors

Law firm TSMP reaches out to elderly to help them with end-of-life issues such as making a will.

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TSMP staff (all photos) at play with seniors at the Tembusu Senior Activity Centre. The fun element in the activities helped cheer up seniors and break the ice for discussions on more serious matters.

BT_20191202_VATSMP2_3965297.jpg
TSMP staff (all photos) at play with seniors at the Tembusu Senior Activity Centre. The fun element in the activities helped cheer up seniors and break the ice for discussions on more serious matters.

BT_20191202_VATSMP2_3965297.jpg
TSMP staff (all photos) at play with seniors at the Tembusu Senior Activity Centre. The fun element in the activities helped cheer up seniors and break the ice for discussions on more serious matters.

Singapore

END-OF-LIFE issues are considered taboo, particularly in Asian culture, and people - especially the elderly - shy away from talking about it.

However, that stereotype couldn't be further from the truth on Friday, when TSMP Law Corporation's staff and more than 45 seniors at the Tembusu Senior Activity Centre discussed topics that ranged from Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and Advanced Medical Directive (AMD) to Will and Maintenance of Parents.

More than six out of 10 seniors surveyed in that group had no trouble talking about these topics, but more than half of the respondents did not know how to go about getting an LPA (52 per cent), and what an AMD was (68 per cent).

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One of them, Tay Sai Tiang, 71, said she found the session helpful and the next thing on her to-do-list would be to draw up her will, as she had already done her LPA.

June Ho, TSMP head of community services, said: "According to estimates, more than 10,000 Singaporeans are expected to require end-of-life care by 2020, and the elderly will make up almost half of Singapore's population by 2050. As a corporate citizen, TSMP Law Corporation (TSMP) believes in doing its part to tackle issues of the day, it being evident that ageing population and end-of-life care are issues that are not going away."

She added that such activities were done on a more ad hoc basis previously. But this year, TSMP Law Corporation decided to target specific issues.

"Giving legal advice is our forte, so we decided to capitalise on that for our CSR outreach as well. We also saw a need to empower Singapore's fast-greying population with pertinent information that would help their end- of-life planning. And to top it off, we wanted to continue to bring fun and cheer to the elderly. So combining all of these, we created a lively setting for them to learn and to ask questions."

The boutique law firm organised a party and seminar to help the beneficiaries - comprising elderly residents living in Eunos estate - navigate twilight-year and end-of-life issues in a safe setting where they could ask TSMP lawyers about arrangements to suit their individual circumstances and needs.

The current event is the latest in a series of activities targeted at reaching out to the elderly, one of three groups of beneficiaries (the others being migrant workers and at-risk youths) TSMP focuses on for its social outreach efforts.

Serving both seniors as well as the younger generation

Nadia Samdin, senior associate at TSMP, said: "Having knowledge is empowering. The lack of knowledge can cause fear and unease. We polled what else the seniors wanted to know and the Maintenance of Parents Act and IOUs were on top of the list.

"It was rewarding to see them listening and taking pictures of the slides as the talks were going on."

Another value-added feature the law firm provided was collaborating with Albakri LLC and its founder, Muslim Albakri, for a presentation and to answer questions such as about the Syariah version of LPA and wills.

Ms Ho said: "We also introduced a comedic skit in the programme, which summarised key issues so that those who were still shy to directly ask questions would still learn from it."

Jacob Ng, social work associate at the Tembusu Senior Activity Centre, said: "The programme is beneficial for the elderly. I can see how the issues relates to them and it is good that the law firm is here as we are unable to go into the specifics with them.

"Splitting the seniors into smaller groups also helped them open up and share more, as they feel more comfortable in that setting."

Ms Ho said such CSR projects "help with employee retention".

"The younger generation are looking beyond pay and the usual perks and benefits. They also want to give back and are excited about such events.

"For us, the younger staff really took time off to source for gifts and raid the market for food. And in turn, we become motivated as well. This is something that goes beyond the pay grade. We believe that if we stand up and be the first to help the needy, others will follow."