At 64 years old, Mdm Sa’odah Binte Midi is an active and cheerful mak cik who loves to do hip hop dance, attend IT courses and cook her favourite dishes.

Probe a little deeper, and you will be surprised to hear that Mdm Sa’odah underwent a major brain operation a year ago, following a mild stroke which left her prone to occasional giddy spells.

In addition, she is pre-diabetic, has high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. On her left wrist is a scar from an operation after she slipped and fell on a rainy day three years ago.

Despite these health woes, Mdm Sa’odah passed her first ever Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) in July this year.

Take an IPPT if you are 55 and above

It was of course, not the usual IPPT associated with army boys and NSmen. Instead, Mdm Sa’odah took a test specially tailored for seniors like her.

The IPPT for Seniors, or IPPT-S is a frailty screening programme, developed by a multi-disciplinary team of doctors and allied health professionals from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and Sengkang General Hospital (SKH).

The screening consists of a questionnaire and a series of nine short physical tests. The questionnaire identifies medical, functional and psycho-social risk factors that may put seniors in the frail or pre-frail category while the tests assess their flexibility, strength and balance. For example, participants assess their strength in a grip test and do a “back scratch” to test their upper limb flexibility.

Seniors who are assessed to be pre-frail or frail and require medical attention are referred for follow-up a will be involved as well.

“The development of frailty as one ages often goes unnoticed until a health crisis, like a fall, occurs. We want to detect frailty early and help seniors make lifestyle changes before conditions worsen.”

Associate Professor Ng Yee Sien, Senior Consultant, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, SGH and SKH.

IPPT-S at the Void Deck

Community partners play an important role in identifying seniors for the screening and ensuring followup care.

The first to get on board was COMNET Senior Activity Centre @ Rivervale Crescent and Rivervale Community Centre. The IPPT-S was conducted at the void deck of Block 182 in Sengkang, where the centre is sited.

Ms Annie Lim, a centre coordinator from COMNET Senior Activity Centre shared, “At first, the take-up rate wasn’t great, but when seniors saw the test in progress, they got interested and signed up on the spot. After they got their test results, some became more serious about exercising. Having the physiotherapists and dietitians from SKH here to conduct follow-up sessions also helped. When the SKH team is around, seniors push themselves harder to exercise, compared to when they follow a workout video!”

Annie and her team of staff and volunteers also picked up useful tips from the SKH team on nutrition, physiotherapy and nursing care to help their clients.

Some seniors, like Mdm Sa’odah, are looking forward to taking the tests again.

“I took part (in the IPPT-S) because I wanted to know how fit I am after my operation. I hope I get a better score in my next test!”

Mdm Sa’odah Binte Midi, 64 years old.

SKH aims to bring on board more community partners on this initiative and is grateful to the Ng Kim Suan Foundation, a fund managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore, for coming forward with some financial support in piloting this programme.