Conditional MCO: How the elderly are staying active

Since Oct 2, Lim (left) and Kok have been organising stretching exercises for senior citizens using Google Meet. Photo: Datin Dr Lim Ah Lan

Homemaker Sushila Devi Subash's spirits isn't dampened that her movements will be restricted once again by the conditional movement control order (MCO), which starts today.

Since Oct 2, the 70-year-old has been busy with numerous online activities organised by The Social Connect Group, a senior citizens group in her SS20 neighbourhood in Petaling Jaya.

"During the recovery MCO, The Social Connect Group members worked out in the park, at a safe distance from each other.

"But due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases, our member Datin Dr Lim Ah Lan started to organise online stretching exercises and line dancing lessons using Google Meet," said Sushila during a phone interview recently.

On Monday, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yakoob announced that Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Putrajaya would be put under a two-week conditional MCO from Oct 14-27.

The elderly are advised to stay indoors during the pandemic because the risk of severe illness from contracting Covid-19 increases with age.

Sushila (in yellow T-shirt) enjoys the online exercise sessions for members of her senior citizens group. Photo: Datin Dr Lim Ah LanSushila (in yellow T-shirt) enjoys the online exercise sessions for members of her senior citizens group. Photo: Datin Dr Lim Ah Lan

Severe illness means a person infected with the virus may require hospitalisation, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe. They could even die if their immune system is weak.

While Sushila will miss her daily walks around the neighbourhood, she thinks senior citizens must keep safe during the pandemic.

"Even though senior citizens can't go out, there are many activities that we can indulge in at home. It includes learning new things on social media, meditating and reading. We have to stay positive and remind ourselves that things will change for the better soon," explained the grandmother of two.

Since Oct 2, Lim and her husband Datuk Koh Kia Lim, both 71, have been conducting stretching exercises and line dance lessons for her senior citizens' group using Google Meet.

Lim admitted it was initially a challenge to learn to use video conferencing platforms to facilitate the classes.

"Initially, most of us blundered when learning to use Google Meet and Zoom. But through some trial and error, we managed to get the hang of things," said Lim, a retired botanist.

Josephine and her husband Isitor Thambiyah enjoy staying indoors with their pets during the pandemic. Photo: FilepicJosephine and her husband Isitor Thambiyah enjoy staying indoors with their pets during the pandemic. Photo: Filepic

Classes are held thrice a week – every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning for about two hours. The response has been positive, with over 40 senior citizens attending each session, said Lim.

"So far, our members have been proactive. Throughout the pandemic, our senior citizen group members have been staying positive. They adhere to the standard operating procedures and motivate each other during the stay-at-home period."

Retired teacher Josephine Odela Soosay Raj, 79, plans to continue with her usual routine – which includes tending to her garden, pets and daily household chores – during the conditional MCO.

"I do feel down that I won't be able to go out much or participate in my weekly volunteer efforts to help the poor. It's also a pity that I can't visit my siblings who live around the Klang Valley.

"But instead of feeling sad, my husband and I will keep busy with our usual chores and prayers. Thankfully, our children and grandkids live closeby and visit us each day. Having our granddaughters over help to brighten up each day."

Josephine advises senior citizens to look on the bright side and keep themselves safe.

"The government needs to implement these measures to protect people from the pandemic. Keep a positive mindset and remain active at home. With God's blessings, we will overcome the pandemic together."

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