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Funding for those who want to help seniors

  Monday, 23 l 08 l 2010 Source:  The Straits Times   
By: Nur Dianah Suhaimi

ASPIRING gerontologists, caregivers, inventors and anyone with a yen to help the elderly can apply for support from a new fund that sponsors efforts to help older folk lead more comfortable lives.

The Alice Lim Memorial Fund was set up by Mr Henry Lim, former president of the Gerontological Society, in honour of his wife, who died in March after a stroke. The private fund was set up a month after her death with the money that she left behind.

Said Mr Lim, 85, who is Transport Minister Raymond Lim’s father: “When she was alive, my wife was very active in helping the less fortunate. So I thought setting up a fund will be a good way of honouring her.”

He said the fund can afford to disburse $150,000 to $200,000 a year for several years. Those who can expect to receive funding will include inventors of gadgets to help the elderly, organisations which need funding for elderly-befriending programmes and students who need scholarships to study gerontology in university.

“It can even be a project to invent a walking stick with an alarm button which the elderly user can press if he or she falls,” Mr Lim suggested.

Mr Lim and his children agreed to set up a memorial fund but it was his idea that the money be channelled towards efforts to help the elderly.

“There are many funds helping the youth. The elderly get less and they often cannot speak for themselves,” he said.

One particular group the fund aims to focus on is caregivers, including domestic helpers. Mr Lim noted that there is a lack of education for caregivers on how to care for the old: “Many of them have never received any education in gerontology. Therefore, they cannot empathise with the elderly and care for them well.”

The fund has already disbursed some $24,000 to programmes by the Presbyterian Community Services (PCS), a charitable body. They include a programme in the Haig Road area which encourages senior citizens to interact and remain mentally active through mind games.

PCS’ executive director and Nominated MP Laurence Wee said: “It is wonderful that there is a private fund dedicated to helping the elderly. More people should know about it and make use of it.”

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