People come together to help distressed man and his dementia-stricken mother at mall

(From left) Ms Mariama Ratnasamy, Senior Staff Sergeant Imran Moosa, Ms Scarlett Chong, Ms Carmen Chng and Mr David Tan all got together to help an elderly woman with dementia.
(From left) Ms Mariama Ratnasamy, Senior Staff Sergeant Imran Moosa, Ms Scarlett Chong, Ms Carmen Chng and Mr David Tan all got together to help an elderly woman with dementia.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - A group of people at a shopping mall came together and helped a man who was struggling to manage his elderly mother, who had soiled herself.

The incident came to light after one of the good Samaritans, Ms Scarlett Chong, 39, who works in business development, posted about it on Facebook on Wednesday (Aug 12). It has garnered over 4,100 reactions and 2,200 shares as of Sunday at 4pm.

Ms Chong said that she was at Jem shopping mall on Wednesday afternoon for a late lunch and, while going up on the escalator, heard a commotion at a toilet cubicle for the disabled.

Hearing shouts ahead, she went to investigate and found that the elderly woman, who had dementia, had soiled herself, and her son was having trouble managing her as well as his own composure.

Ms Chong told The Straits Times that a group of passers-by, all of whom are staff of the Don Don Donki discount chain, called the mall's security for help. The police were also called.

In an effort to find some clean clothes for the elderly woman, Ms Chong approached the nearby Love, Bonito apparel store, and staff member Carmen Chng immediately picked a dress off the rack and handed it to her.

Senior security officer Mariama Ratnasamy, 37, and Mr David Tan, 48, senior facilities supervisor from Lendlease, which manages the mall, were in the meantime comforting the woman, who could converse only in Hokkien.

Not able to speak the dialect, Ms Ratnasamy, who is from Henderson Security Services, gently held the woman's arm, while Mr Tan joked with her.

Ground response force officer Imran Moosa and other police officers who arrived on the scene were able to calm down the woman's son, as well as connect with the woman, said Ms Chong.

Senior Staff Sergeant Imran, 37, told The Straits Times that he had experience interacting with elderly people with special needs, as his late father-in-law had suffered a stroke and in his final years had dementia, while his mother-in-law uses a wheelchair.

"I know it can be quite stressful from a caregiver's point of view, and such elderly people can be quite emotional, so a lot of patience is required," he added.

Staff Sgt Imran later paid for the dress.

Ms Chng, 23, a retail associate at Love, Bonito, said that she did not expect the dress to be returned or paid for when she handed it over.

"It was a very nice gesture out of goodwill from the police officer," she said.

Ms Chong said she had posted the story on Facebook, hoping that it would reach those who had helped out to show them her appreciation.

She said: "It's the story of how these individuals came together to help, I think they should be celebrated."

Staff Sgt Imran agreed: "Most of the time, Singaporeans are very caring. This shows we have a society that has love and compassion, and is very comforting to know that many people among us want to lend a helping hand, especially to those who are in need."

Ms Chong noted that caregivers had responded to her post, saying they felt encouraged by it and could identify with the situation.

She said: "I'm glad this has also helped them to know that there are people out there more than willing to help and talk to them. Many times caregivers might not be aware that they need to be cared for themselves too."