Challenges of ageing population and disease

I applaud Mr Peter Tay for sharing his caregiver journey (My special girl; June 19).

What he and his family have done is inspiring.

There are many lessons that we can learn, chief of which is to have the grit and determination to do something about a situation.

Singapore needs to continue its efforts in making its people more supportive, empathetic and accepting towards others, regardless of race, social standing and state of health.

As Singapore forges ahead to put together infrastructure and support systems to cope with the silver tsunami, we must also continue to focus on fellow Singaporeans who fall prey to dreaded brain-related diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's.

Such diseases will have an inevitable impact on our daily lives - commuting, buying daily necessities, dining, banking and socialising.

Our entire society - from family members and friends to colleagues, public service staff, transport workers and grassroots volunteers - will be affected.

As Singapore forges ahead to put together infrastructure and support systems to cope with the silver tsunami, we must also continue to focus on fellow Singaporeans who fall prey to dreaded brain-related diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's.

Family members and caregivers will have to be properly trained.

Security and retail staff of shopping centres must also go through proper training on how to spot and help those who are "lost" while they are out.

Workers need to know how to manage and work with colleagues who suffer from such illnesses.

Non-profit organisations, such as the Alzheimer's Disease Association, can play a key role in public education and related training.

The "disruption" to our society caused by disease is not technology-related, but the implications can be similarly, if not more, huge.

Paul Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2017, with the headline 'Challenges of ageing population and disease'. Print Edition | Subscribe