A Complete Guide to Elderly Befriending Services in Singapore

Befrienders can keep loneliness and isolation at bay, and help us stay active in body, mind, and within our community.

by Hannah Grey

Over the last five decades, it is no doubt that Singapore has become an aged society and will continue to remain this way in the coming years. Along with the social issue of our increasingly ageing population, the loneliness epidemic among Singapore’s elderly is something that must not be neglected.

From being placed in nursing homes to living alone, many Singaporean seniors experience isolation, abandonment and even boredom. In order to combat this social problem, many countries all over the world began developing befriending schemes for the elderly, including Singapore.

According to Harvard, broader social interaction for seniors results in higher levels of physical activity, fewer negative feelings, and greater positive moods—all of which are essential aspects of growing older. While it seems like a simple task, the impact of befriending an elderly person can make a big difference in their journey towards ageing in place.

What does a befriender do?

Befrienders typically consist of a group of volunteers who are trained to provide social and psycho-emotional support to seniors through nursing home or weekly home visits. The aim of befriending services is to allow elderly persons in Singapore to age in place within their respective communities while preventing loneliness. Many of these seniors experience extended periods of social isolation and some even go days without any interaction or physical contact, especially for those living alone. 

These interactions not only provide relief for the elderly, but are also an opportunity for befrienders to spot areas of improvement in a senior’s daily environment, such as recommending the installation of grab bars or non-slip mats to prevent falls. Befrienders may then provide the necessary assistance or connect the seniors to the relevant service providers. Befrienders are also put through training prior to engaging with the elderly to help them build effective relationships with the seniors and be equipped with the necessary knowledge to facilitate befriending projects as well. 

How do I become a befriender? 

Depending on the particular service provider or organisation, the criteria for volunteer befrienders may vary. However, all befrienders need to commit to: 

  • Regular home visits to seniors’ residence or nursing home 
  • Providing social and psycho-emotional support to seniors
  • Submitting visit reports regularly to Befriender Executives  
  • Staying alert and informing Befriender Executives if an elderly person displays unusual behaviour so that professionals can step in to help

Get in touch with your preferred organisation to find out more detailed information on how to become a volunteer befriender for seniors in your community. 

Make a Difference in the Lives of the Elderly 

Wherever you are in Singapore, older adults can always reach out to different organisations if they feel like they could use a friend to count on. There are many volunteers in the community who are more than willing to lend a helping hand or listening ear to our beloved seniors, so there is no shame in reaching out for help.

If you have a passion for working with the elderly and have the desire to provide companionship to seniors and create a difference in their lives, join us as a Homage Care Pro. Here at Homage, our goal is to be just as inclusive in our team just as much as we are with our clients. We offer flexible working arrangements for our care professionals who wish to work freelance, short-term, or on a full-time basis as well. What’s more is that we ensure our staff are well taken care of with above market pay, professional training, insurance coverage, job progression, and most importantly, a meaningful career at Homage. 

Find out more on how you can make a difference with us here

How do you befriend an older person?

Although being friends with an older person is something that almost anyone can do, organisations that particularly provide befriending services for the elderly have standard practices when carrying out these activities. 

Begin a Conversation

The first step is always to initiate a conversation. You can talk about anything and everything under the sun from their favourite things, hobbies, and accomplishments. Give them a listening ear and allow them to share their stories and experiences with you. When engaging in a meaningful exchange, make sure to pause between your sentences to give them ample to absorb and process the information. 

Some seniors may have hearing or speech problems, so it is important to give them a little extra time to respond. Befrienders should also avoid giving unwanted advice and using condescending language. Instead, try showing your interest, support and encouragement in response to what they say.

Share a Meal

Bonding over food is another way to build rapport with seniors as a befriender. Besides affecting our emotional and social well-being, isolation can also have an impact on our appetite, ultimately affecting our health. 

Sharing a simple home-cooked meal with an elderly person nourishes both their physical health and their soul. Food has the ability to trigger certain feelings and emotions in a person such as nostalgia and happiness, and is a great and effective way to connect with others. Besides, food always tastes better when shared. 

Help Them Try Something New

Whether it’s learning how to bake something from scratch or trying a new sport or game, it’s never too late to pick up a new hobby or skill. Trying something new presents a host of benefits for seniors as it keeps dementia at bay and stimulates their cognitive functions as well. As you get older, it is incredibly beneficial to carry on learning and trying new things to challenge yourself and keep your mind active. 

Here’s a list of fun activities you can do with seniors to keep them mentally and physically active.

Why We Need Befriending Services

Changes in family patterns such as family members prioritising work responsibilities, grieving the loss of a loved one, or a shrinking family size can result in weakened family support for seniors. As our elderly family members start to grow older, the reality of loneliness brought by old age becomes increasingly apparent. When neglected, this could have grave effects on their emotional health such as suicidal tendencies or symptoms of depression. Here are some tips that can help you better care for a loved one with depression.

In 2018, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) reported that the number of suicides committed by the elderly are drastically increasing each year due to neglect by family members and not knowing how to seek help regarding their struggles. Creating purposeful relationships through befriending services are incredibly helpful in complementing family support with community support, which can improve the overall emotional and psychological welfare of the older adults. 

This is just one of the many ways we can uplift seniors in their golden years and eradicate feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Sometimes, all they want is a listening ear and the company of a friend.

List of Befriending Services in Singapore

Here is a list of befriending services in Singapore that you can reach out to.

Lion Befrienders

TOUCH Community Services

  • Location: Blk 162 Bukit Merah Central #05-3545
  • Telephone: 6377 0122
  • Operating Hours: Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm 

Agency for Integrated Care (AIC)

REACH Community Services

Health Hub

Brahm Centre 

Bethesda Care Centre 

ElderAid by Singapore Red Cross 

Filos Community Services 

Montfort Care 

Depending on the organisation, you may have to fulfil certain criteria to qualify and apply for the befriending services. However, if your loved one does not fit all of the criteria but can benefit from having a caregiver around for companionship or to perform check-in visits from time-to-time, Homage can help. Our Care Professionals are trained and experienced in caring for the elderly. Besides companionship, our Care Professionals can help with meal preparation as well as support with various activities of daily living such as transferring and showering. 

If your loved one or someone you know can benefit from companionship and befriending services, we can help. Reach out to our Care Advisors at 6100 0055 to find out more.


About the Writer
Hannah Grey
Hannah is an all-around creative with a flair for travel and photography. She also only has her coffee black, which should be the only way to drink it.
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