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From Sleepless to Helpful

“I can’t sleep. I might as well die.”

Tormented by sleeplessness (only sleeping one hour at night), Mr Goh became so depressed that he contemplated suicide to end his suffering. Yet insomnolence is only one of the issues this 61-year-old elderly is trying to deal with.

When O’Joy counsellor, Jon first visited Mr Goh at his 2-room rental flat, he was taken aback by the bare bones that the flat contained. There were only one bed and a couple of chairs. With the windows shut, the place felt hollow and lifeless.

Mr Goh lives here by himself after his father passed away. He had been the only caregiver to his father. However, when his own health deteriorated, and could not work due to severe rheumatism, his siblings cut ties with him. He also lost contact with his only son after his ex-wife passed away.

Unemployed and with no family nor friends, Mr Goh relied solely on SSO financial assistance to get him by. However, the hassle of tussling with the doctor every 6 months to get his financial aid approved caused him a lot of stress. This was made worse by his neighbour perpetually knocking on the floor in the middle of the night keeping him awake. Several attempts to mediate with this neighbour were futile.

For years, as Mr Goh laid wide-awake at night trying to shut out the din that echoed through his empty flat, his mind would be consumed in the anguish about his financial uncertainty. Sometimes, he would spend the night sitting at the coffee shop or at the void deck, totally distressed over his predicament.

Jon set to work, accompanying Mr Goh for his consultation with doctors, and educated him about depression and the importance of medication. Mr Goh gained a better understanding of his health and mental condition and was medication-compliant.

To improve the condition of the flat, Jon sourced for furniture and a TV to make the elderly’s flat more homely. Mr Goh is encouraged to open the windows for better ventilation.

Worried about his finances, Mr Goh wanted to find a job so that he can be independent. Therefore, working with a family service centre, a job opening as a cleaner was identified. Jon accompanied Mr Goh for a job interview. Although the elderly was successful in securing the job, his rheumatic joints could not withstand the exertion, which left him in more pain and disappointment. Fortunately, Mr Goh was subsequently certified to be unfit for work and could receive permanent financial assistance. This lifted a huge weight off his chest.

Jon continued to work with Mr Goh regarding his sleep issue. Sleep hygiene and sleep log were used to improve his sleeping habits. Mindfulness, deep breathing and body scan were introduced to help calm his mind. Thankfully, the elderly man was open and keen to learn such new concepts and techniques. A volunteer para-counsellor is also paired to visit him every month.

Over time, his mindset gradually shifted. Mr Goh began to accept that some things cannot be changed and that he would spend time in the things that he likes. He came into terms with his sleep issue, now clocking 2 hours of sleep every night despite the racket. He also discovered a newfound love in Korean dramas, sometimes even discussing the story plot with others. Keen to be sociable and productive, he reconnected with an old friend and the duo started volunteering at the gardens.

After receiving a donated smartphone from a church, Mr Goh wanted Jon to teach him how to use the gadget, even though he is illiterate. He uses the phone to take photos of plants that he took care of and to listen to songs. Recently during COVID-19, Mr Goh could teach his friend how to scan for Safeentry.

Mr Goh is one of the many elderly clients that O’Joy has served with a positive outcome. From a sleepless depressed elderly who has lost hope in living, to an enthusiastic learner and helpful volunteer, Mr Goh has indeed come a long way.

This is what O’Joy stands for. Bringing oceans of joy to those we serve.

Names and photo are changed to protect the confidentiality and privacy of the client.


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