January 5

We studied 3 best places for counselling for the elderly in Singapore

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I looked at the elderly lady seated in front of me. As much as I wanted to help her, I didn’t know how to.

I was 25, in the pink of health, and I couldn’t relate to her describing her fears of being blind from her eye operation.

Counseling the elderly isn’t an easy thing.
Counseling the elderly isn’t an easy thing.

If you’re an elderly person looking for counselling today, you’ve come to the right place. You don’t want to get a counsellor like me, who can’t relate to what you’re saying.

But how do you find someone that works for you?

I used to counsel elderly clients who came through the door of the family service centre I used to work at.

Having seen many elderly come through the doors, I’ve come to realise that they are unique in their needs.

Too long didn’t read?

Option Cost Advantages Cons
Call hotlines from Care Corner or SAGE Counseling Centre $0 You don’t have to leave your home You may not get that much therapeutic effect
Care Corner Gerontological Counselling Unit $0 Therapists here are well trained, and have a good supervisory network
They are centrally located in Toa Payoh
 
SAGE Counseling Centre $0   You might need to travel to the West in Jurong Point Shopping Centre
O Joy $20 (if you’re not on public subsidy schemes) One of the pioneers in counselling for the elderly, having started in 2004 You have to pay

The elderly have unique needs, that can only be addressed by trained personnel

Don’t throw your tissue box at me.

But I’m going to say this.

The elderly have different needs, that can only be addressed by trained personnel.

But the reality is that gerontological work (work for the elderly) is not popular. Especially when you think about the fact that there’s fast-moving work in youth and children, who may seem more vibrant and active.

You slowly understand why it’s hard in Singapore to find a ready pool of counsellors the can help you.

Atul Gawande, in his book ‘Being Mortal’, describes how lacking gerontologists are in the US. In Singapore, it’s also a similar issue.

In February 2023, Jennifer Goh, the assistant director of centre-based services at St Luke’s Eldercare, shared in a ChannelNews Asia interview, how a big challenge was in terms of having enough staff to serve seniors.

That being said,

Where should you go?

There are primarily 3 routes of care if you’re looking for counselling.

  1. The public sector,
  2. The private sector,
  3. And the charity sector

But here we recommend that you go to charities. If you do a quick Google search, you would hardly see any providers.

That’s why we suggest the following.

First understand what you are facing

The common issues the elderly face, information from O Joy
The common issues the elderly face, information from O Joy

As an elderly person, you might be facing a multitude of different losses. You may see yourself going through bereavement.

The loss of a loved one.

Or you might see yourself feeling a loss of purpose after retiring. But when do you actually need help, and when is it just something that will pass?

If you’re going through:

  1. Thoughts of suicide or self harm
  2. A lack of interest in things that used to bring you joy
  3. Physical exhaustion, and an unwillingness to get out of bed

That might be when you seek help.

Do you know the trigger?

If you’re facing something like bereavement, it may be worth considering the list of providers here, helpfully given by the Singapore Hospice Council.

But if you’re going through emotionally difficult periods, that might be when you approach specialist counsellors.

Call hotlines

You may not be sure whether you need to go down. And it may feel scary to go all the way down, especially when you think about how others will see you.

You can try calling anonymously first. The SAGE Counseling Centre offers The Seniors Helpline at 1800 555 5555.

Or you could even call the Mandarin Counseling Hotline of Care Corner at 1800-3535-800.

Care Corner Gerontological Counselling Unit

No fee, with professionally trained counsellors.

What else can you ask for?

Having worked with the team at Care Corner, I know that their counselling unit is one of the best in Singapore because of the high level of qualifications you need to have just to enter their staff team.

For example, at their paid counselling service, the minimum requirement for entry is a Master’s Degree.

But what’s more important is the strong supervision network they have. Supervision may not mean much to you, the client.

But it’s important because this means that if the professional doesn’t know how to deal with you, he or she can easily get help from a supervisor. The supervisor can go through the case and help.

That’s why it’s important.

3 ways you can access them:

  1. Visit them at Blk 62B Lor 4 Toa Payoh #02-121, Singapore 312062
  2. Call them at 6258 6601
  3. Email them at icm.gcu@carecorner.org.sg

Sage Counselling Centre

SAGE is one of the few specialist elderly counselling centres in Singapore, and they might be one of the best because of their focus on the elderly.

It’s even free!

O Joy

O Joy is one of the pioneers when it comes to gerontological counselling, having started in 2004. Since then, they have grown to have a social enterprise, mental health teams, and many other services.

Beyond just counselling, they also offer activities to engage the elderly.

This can be great because your counselling session may only be once a week. For the rest of the week, you need to find meaningful activities, and relationships to get yourself better.

Meaningful relationships, meaningful activities

My therapist always tells me the two keys to a happier life are

  1. Meaningful relationships,
  2. Meaningful activities.

It may hurt having these experiences that weigh you down, making you feel that life is not worth living.

But as you find these community service providers like O Joy, SAGE Counseling Centre, and Care Corner, they will help you to steadily feel better about yourself.

Keep going.

The road may not get easier, but you will get better.

 


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