Living Smart: How Uncle Benson’s Flat Supports His Assisted Living

Uncle Benson strikes a pose. Photo by Charlene Winfred

When we first met Uncle Benson, he greeted us with the biggest, most beautiful smile. He’d put his dentures in for the occasion, we learned from Sandy, his caregiver.


“Uncle Benson changed in case his girlfriend was coming to visit,” she teased. He chuckled and waved her away, but then later admitted there might have been some truth to the jest. “Last time when I was young, I was very naughty.” Uncle Benson, now 83, was reportedly a bit of a ladies’ man in his youth. He was a regular at the cabaret where he loved to dance and sing and generally have a good time.


“Havoc la, Uncle,” we teased. 


But he was only ever serious about one girl, who was introduced by a mutual friend at a Christmas party. She had caught his eye as he walked in the door. 


“I think it was love at first sight. After that, there was no one else for me.”

Uncle Benson has a chuckle at a photo of himself that Sandy, his caregiver, shows him on the phone. Photo by Charlene Winfred

On their first date, he remembers that they went to watch My Fair Lady at Lido theatre, and two years later, he asked her to marry him. We wanted to know how he proposed, but he fell silent, lost to his memories.


“My wife was very beautiful,” he said, after a long pause. She’d passed around 20 years ago, and he admits that certain memories are fading, though it’s clear that he still feels the loss.


Uncle Benson is a Red Crowns resident who is also a landlord. His flat is in the east of Singapore,  but he’s lived in this flat in Telok Blangah for around two years, with other housemates  and live-in caregivers. The HDB flat is right next to Mount Faber, where the view out of the living room window is the lush slope of the hill itself. “I went to Mount Faber with my wife many times.” He waggled his eyebrows. “We drove to Lovers Lookout.”


His own flat in Simei functions as another Red Crowns home. The rental that he collects covers his Red Crowns care costs, which is a win-win situation as far as he’s concerned. “Like that, Red Crowns is cheap and good!”


Affordability is a huge benefit, but Uncle Benson also has plenty to say about the care he receives with Red Crowns.  He speaks very highly of Sandy, who has cared for him for the past two years that he’s lived in this home. The two have a very father-daughter rapport — she shows us phone photos of Uncle Benson when she takes him out for a jaunt about town. When helping him dress for a day out, she makes sure he wears something that reflects who he is: the big rings with stones that the men of his day sported, the gold crucifix, the jaunty cap.

Uncle Benson dressed jauntily for a day out in town. Sandy, his caregiver, makes sure he’s dressed

We oohed and aahed at the stylish gent. “So gangster la, Uncle!” He tried to look bashful, but it was clear he was enjoying the attention. He thoroughly enjoys having visitors — us, today — to have a yarn and a joke with.

“Red Crowns was the best,” he later said, answering a question about what other options he’d looked at with his daughter, while they were searching for assisted living homes.


“I don’t have to do anything,” he laughs. “The cooking and housework is done for me. It’s like being on holiday!”

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Date Published
May 19, 2024
Charlene Winfred