By Amanda Ong
Diploma in Biomedical Informatics & Engineering (aka Biomedical Engineering)
I was assigned to do Audometric Screening tests on the elderly as part of my final year major project. Our main aim was to head over to the St Luke’s elderly care centres to carry out an ear-screening test on the elderly – a simple enough procedure but which took about 4 days. I spent the first two days at their Hougang Centre and thereafter, at the Telok Blangah Centre.
It was indeed a meaningful and eye-opening experience. As I’ve never been to any elderly care centre like this before, much less work in one, seeing how things are over there really made me admire the caring staff there. Not only were they welcoming and friendly, they were also very caring, patient and thoughtful to the elderly.
During my first day of this experience, which was at Hougang Centre, I was rather scared and nervous. I feared that the responses of the old folks might not be what we wanted or expected. However, I was wrong. These elderly folks are really awesome people. Looking at how interested they looked and how responsive and cooperative they were when we did the audio tests, really brightened up my day! In fact, the memory of their smiles and kind gestures have been firmly etched in my mind until this day… and it has actually made me want to go back there to visit them again on my own.
Amanda (left) preparing the test equipment
Of course, we did face a few problems. We had problem in communicating with the elderly at times, especially when their spoken language is Cantonese as neither myself nor my group mates could speak or understand Cantonese! However, the staff there patiently helped to translate our instructions to the old folks, and also to convey the latter’s feedback to us.
Also, due to the illness which some of the elderly had, it was rather hard for them to respond to us. However, with much patience, we managed to complete administering all the tests. Oh! … not forgetting that there were a couple of uncooperative patients who didn’t want to do the test and who actually tried to give us false responses! (Yes, they did!)
Conducting the audio test on an elderly member
These four days of experience has taught me a lot. I’ve not only improved my technical knowledge and ability to handle the audiometer, and other equipment, but it has also taught me that we humans should cherish life. All elderly folks were once young – like us – and we too, would become old – like them – one day. So we should make the best of our days.