Minister of State Dr Lam Pin Min at TTSH's World Alzheimer's Day Event, 28 Sep 2014

Mr Seng Han Thong, Advisor for Ang Mo Kio GRC

Associate Professor Thomas Lew, Chairman, Medical Board, TTSH

Associate Professor Chin Jing Jih, Chairman, Division of Integrative and Community Care, TTSH

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning everyone.

    It is my pleasure to join you here at this World Alzheimer’s Day event organised by Tan Tock Seng Hospital. I am delighted to see many residents coming together as a family to understand more about Alzheimer’s disease, which is one of the most common forms of dementia.

2    Dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people. Worldwide, there are nearly 36 million people with dementia, with more than 7 million new cases every year[1]. As our population grows older, the prevalence of dementia is expected to increase. There is thus a need to ensure that our community as well as healthcare professionals are aware and have a sound understanding of dementia, to be able to provide good care and support to patients and their caregivers.

Reducing the Risk of Dementia

3    This year’s theme for World Alzheimer’s Day is “Dementia: Can we reduce the risk?” As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” Indeed, there are various ways for us to take charge of our health and do what we can to reduce the risk of developing dementia. I am not an expert in dementia but I would like to share some tips I have learnt from experts over time.

4    First, we need to stay physically healthy. Earlier, I spoke about Alzheimer’s disease as one of the most common forms of dementia. The other common form of dementia is vascular dementia, which is a complication of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We can avoid these diseases by adopting a healthy lifestyle, including exercising regularly, choosing our food wisely, and not smoking.

5    Second, we need to stay mentally active. A healthy lifestyle includes not just physical health but also mental health. We can keep our minds active by participating in activities which require thinking and planning, such as trying out new recipes when you prepare a meal. We can also stimulate our minds by learning a new skill, reading books and magazines, and playing card games and board games in our spare time. For today’s event, a variety of activity booths has been prepared by our partners such as the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP). I would encourage everyone to take a walk around the booths and try out some of these cognitive activities and exercises.

Ageing with Grace: The Complete Caregivers’ Guide

6    While prevention is important, we are also working to support caregivers to take better care of their seniors who develop dementia. Today’s launch of “Ageing with Grace: The Complete Caregivers’ Guide” is one example. This guidebook, as introduced earlier by A/Prof Chin, comes at an opportune time as our nation prepares to care for more seniors amongst us but also to enhance the support provided for their caregivers. The guidebook has three parts, with comprehensive information on the different stages of the ageing process.

7    Part one of the guidebook deals with “Preventive Geriatrics”,  Part two provides caregivers with information on common ageing conditions - “When Frailty Sets In”; and the last segment, entitled “End-Of-Life”, discusses terminal care as well as the crucial matters to take note of during this trying period.

8    I am heartened by these educational efforts to provide valuable knowledge, tips and techniques to our patients and caregivers. I would like to extend my appreciation to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and The Straits Times Press (STP) for all their hard work and efforts in producing the guidebook.

9    The guidebook will be a good complement to the caregiver resources that MOH and the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) have developed. Through AIC, we have launched a toll-free national eldercare helpline at 1800-650-6060 called the Singapore Silver Line, which caregivers can call for help or support as they take care of their elderly loved ones. If they need information on where to get care services for their loved ones, or how to get respite or elder-sit services, they can call this number.

Conclusion

10    Caring for an individual with dementia can be challenging but as caregivers, your support is most critical to your loved ones. We applaud you and will continue to support you in your journey.

11    Let me conclude by thanking the organisers and partners for this meaningful event. I hope that everyone here today will have a fruitful day and be able to take home useful tips and information to share with your families and friends. Please allow me to say a few words in Chinese.

12     现在让我用华语说几句话。今天很高兴和大家一起参与这个活动。 今天是国际阿滋海默症日。陈笃生医院在今天推出一个看护者手册,大家可以从手册里更了解我们身体老化的过程,老人常有的病症,并且认识如何更好地保持身心健康。护联中心最近推出的一站式年长看护求助热线“乐银线” 1800 – 650 – 6060. 看护者需要关于护老服务的任何咨询,打这个号码就行!

13    当然,预防胜于治疗。大家如果要失智症远离你,那就要记的,多动身体,也多动一动脑筋,比如如学习新的技能、阅读,下棋等等。当然,也要注意饮食,不要抽烟。

14    让我们一起活到老,健康到老,好吗?谢谢大家!! Thank you.


 

[1] World Health Organisation. Dementia. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs362/en/

 

 

 

 

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