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Anita Kapoor: Is Placing The Elderly Into Nursing Homes Such A Bad Thing To Do?

Television host Anita Kapoor has been facing up to the reality of local nursing homes for the elderly.

In October 2016, Kapoor checked into a local nursing home as a resident, taking part in almost every aspect of an elderly person’s daily routine.

Television host Anita Kapoor not only talks the talk but walks the walk. The celebrity ambassador of Singapore’s Habitat for Humanity and Mumbai’s Magic Bus has attempted something even more radical.

If you’ve been following her social media pages and posts, you would have gotten a glimpse of her immersive two-week stay at a place one would hardly call five star. In October 2016, Kapoor checked into a local nursing home as a resident, taking part in almost every aspect of an elderly person’s daily routine. She wore a fall-resistant body suit to sleep in one night, and participated in morning tai chi the next day. Kapoor even sampled a bowl of food given to those who have swallowing problems.

Having been her mother’s carer for 10 years, Kapoor says: “The thought of placing my mum in an eldercare facility has never crossed my mind. But I realised that I’ve also been quite judgmental of people who did do that.”

So why subject herself to life in such an environment? “I think it is important, as an advocate for the elderly, to have better facilities and a better life, that I should understand what life is like for those within the system. I’m not trying to convince myself whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. I just really want to know. Also, I understand that putting a parent or grandparent in an eldercare home is often the lesser of two evils. You may not be effectively able to take care of this person at home. But, whatever it is, the system still needs to be delivered with empathy, kindness and, of course, professionalism.”

Kapoor was fully engaged in all the activities at the nursing home, morning, noon and night. At the same time, she became an observer, shining light through her posts and a full-length social documentary of her experience.

In one of her live videos posted on Facebook, Kapoor not only called for a positive and permanent pool of resources for caregivers to up their proficiencies but to begin a discourse among every person about what it is like to age in Singapore.

“This is an important conversation to have. We need to continue to keep our ears, eyes and heart very much open,” says Kapoor.

By 2030, Singapore will have become a ‘super-aged society’, with one in four persons considered a senior citizen. As birth rates plunge and the number of family caregivers dwindle, more are turning to nursing homes for long-term professional care. However, as stated in a study commissioned by the Lien Foundation and the Khoo Chwee Neo Foundation, these homes struggle with clinical and regimented routines due to lack of choice in residential aged care, chronic manpower shortage, low staff pay and a financing system out of sync with the evolving nature of care.

As for Kapoor, she will continue to advocate for what she believes in, even if it isn’t easy. “I’ve been very fortunate to have a voice, to be given the popularity to have that voice. And this is not something I take lightly at all. My entire life philosophy is to advocate for the greater good. Even if it is a negative situation, advocate for the greater good.”