Students@SPM 2024: AGELESS Longitudinal Study Health Screening

On the 18th of May 2024 (Saturday), nineteen Master of Public Health students 2023/2024 volunteered for the AGELESS longitudinal study health screening at Taman Medan. Before Saturday, we had organised online briefings to allocate roles for screening stations and processes for data collection.

We started the day bright and early at 0730 and started setting up the hall. By 0900, the entrance was filled with eager registered participants waiting to get screened. The registration process was well-organised, with student volunteers guiding each participant through the necessary paperwork. They greeted the elderly with warm smiles, a genuine desire to help, and ensured a smooth start to the screening process.

As the participants moved through the different stations, they underwent a range of health checks, including:

  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Blood collection
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Psychosocial assessment
  • Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
  • Physical assessments
  • Medical history

Throughout the day, the student volunteers engaged in meaningful conversations with the elderly participants. They learned about their lives, their struggles, and their joys. The participants, in turn, expressed their gratitude for the students’ dedication and the opportunity to receive comprehensive health screenings.

Here are some reflections from our students:

“I had a wonderful time at the psychosocial booth collecting information from elders as the questions were rather personal. Some very quiet elders scored high in their mental health and were very content. They were physically mobile, self-reliant but also had a good social community of close friends and family members to care for them.  Some were outwardly cheerful, very active with social activities, used technology well but yet expressed their loneliness and solitude. Another who had a quiet demeanour, did not really use the internet, or had an advanced smartphone but scored highly with life satisfaction and positive emotions. This showed we truly cannot judge a book by its cover. The most challenging part for me was reading out the questions word for word as some found it difficult to see or/and hear. I have never really valued data collection until this very day. It was an interesting experience as a prospective researcher and health practitioner. I am grateful for Prof Tan, her team from ACT4Health and my classmates for the opportunity and team work.”

Denise Hung Ting, MPH, 23054261

“This volunteering program was definitely a great experience in conducting programs for the elderly. There are a few specific things we have to focus on to make sure the comfort of the elderly while conducting these programs. I was incharge at the registration counter and while taking the basic demographic datas and guiding them, these elderly uncles and aunties do share their own stories, their concerns on their health and their future worries. Every person I met gave me an insight about life and talking to them makes us realise how fragile and short life is. I was very impressed with their commitment to come even at the age of 84. One thing most of them advised was to make sure to live life and serve mankind instead of just running after financial stability and materialistic wealth.This made me realise one day, I might be one of them. The life we live now is an investment to our old age and no bigger wealth than having good health. I even had an experience of even helping to change the punctured car tyre of a 76 years old uncle and how uncle felt very grateful for that small help. Those raw and innocent feelings and advises from these participants definitely a new experience than the normal medical camps we volunteer.”

Suba Bhalini A/P Rangasamy, MPH, 22063985

“Overall, the program provides us with a real-life hands on experience on how to conduct health screening and assessments among the elderly population. It was a delightful experience talking to the participants, getting to know them up close and personal. Majority of the aunties and uncles were friendly and cheerful, despite their age. The obvious difference we can observe were the extent of their social support. Some of them came to the program accompanied by family members, and some came alone. There was this 70-year old aunty who lived alone (husband passed away and stepson lived far away), and were screened to have mild cognitive impairment. I told her that one of the ways to improve her memory is to socialise more often and talk to people. She asked me, how can she do that when she has no friend and nobody to talk to? Apart from that, I believe that most of us volunteers had enjoyed the time we spent together to make sure that all participants completed the stations on time. Even though it was long and tiring, we had fun and definitely have learned new knowledge. Special thank you to Prof Dr Tan Maw Pin, Dr. Roshaslina Rosli, Sobii, Khailesh, Lin and Act4Health for giving us this opportunity to be involved in this impactful program. We wish them all the best in the future!”

Syarifah Nurul Ain bt Syed Badaruddin, MPH, S2192106

The AGELESS research team is dedicated to solving the mysteries of cognitive frailty and improving the quality of our community in the advanced stage of life.

To read more about AGELESS research.

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