Count money while wearing gloves? Nee Soon event shows challenges faced by those with dementia

A go-to point in Nee Soon GRC, where members of the public can learn about dementia. People who find lost dementia-sufferers can also take them to these points.
A go-to point in Nee Soon GRC, where members of the public can learn about dementia. People who find lost dementia-sufferers can also take them to these points. ST PHOTO: MOHD KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - It was a treasure hunt less ordinary.

At the event in Nee Soon South on Sunday (Nov 12), about 100 participants had to perform daily tasks like buttoning a shirt or counting money while wearing gloves or googles.

The idea was to give them a sense of the challenges faced by people with dementia, who tend to experience disorientation, slower movements or memory loss.

Organisers hoped the event would increase empathy towards those with dementia and ensure that they have an adequate support system in place in their communities.

At the event, Nee Soon South MP, Dr Lee Bee Wah, noted that one in 10 Singaporeans over age 60 has dementia. Given Singapore's rapidly ageing population, the number of people with dementia can be expected to hit 80,000 by 2020.

She said: "In the context of Nee Soon South alone, there will be about 1,000 persons with dementia - that means around five to 10 per block."

To cope with the rising numbers, Dementia-Friendly Singapore, a new initiative to promote education and awareness of dementia within communities was launched in 2016.

Together with other agencies and organisations such as Agency for Integrated Care, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Lien Foundation, Nee Soon South has also reached out to merchants in the area to display and spread information about dementia.

There are also three go-to points in the area where residents access more information about the condition. They can also take those with dementia to these points, should they find them lost or disorientated alone in public.

These go-to points are located at Nee Soon South Community Centre, Block 813, Yishun Ring Rd and Block 854, Yishun Ring Rd.