Come together to make Singapore dementia-friendly

TO MAKE Singapore a dementia-friendly nation, the community has an important role to play, said Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor at the launch of the Dementia-Friendly Singapore initiative in her Hong Kah North constituency.

“To make Singapore a dementia-friendly nation, we need everyone to lend a hand. Our wish is to reach out and encourage more citizens and more communities to join our effort to build a dementia-friendly community, one at a time,” said Dr Khor, who also took the opportunity to reach out to shopkeepers in Hong Kah North to join the cause.

The initiative was launched during a SGFuture dialogue session at Hong Kah North Community Centre on 19 March where some 100 Singaporeans, including caregivers, seniors, youths, community service providers and grassroots leaders, shared their views about how the community could help senior citizens in our community. The conversations were lively, honest and generated plenty of good ideas.

For instance, 23-year-old NTU student Zulhaqum Zulkifli is learning Hokkien to better communicate with the seniors in his community and felt that young people like him should meet older folks more often and understand them better.

In addition to the discussions in the community centre’s multi-purpose hall, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) held an Active Ageing Carnival where seniors got tips on staying healthy and active.

Among the activities were using foam to make flowers and building a miniature garden. There was also a mini exercise station and a booth to help caregivers of people with dementia (PWD). And the seniors were also treated to a back massage!

As part of the launch of the Dementia-Friendly Singapore Initiative, Dr Khor also gave out “Friends of Dementia” and “Champions of Dementia” awards to people who are trained to serve as community lookouts to assist PWDs. To date, over 7,000 people across Singapore have been trained. AIC also rolled out a Knowing Dementia Toolkit and a Mental Health Resource Kit for seniors and their caregivers.

One such “Friend” is 18-year-old Nattasha Nina Alvinur. The Ngee Ann Polytechnic student shared that she was motivated to join “Friends of Dementia” after she saw how strangers helped her dementia-afflicted relative who frequently got lost.

“I joined this campaign to help raise awareness for dementia. There are many others like my relative and they need that help as well,” she said.

Article published on: 23/3/2016