More seniors benefiting from dementia prevention programme mooted by SM Teo's late wife

Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean (left), together with NUHS Mind Science Centre chairman Cheong Choong Kong, at the launch of a book titled Ageing With Dignity, on May 8, 2022. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - A dementia prevention programme mooted by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean's late wife has now grown into a nationwide programme that combines health education, art, music, horticultural therapy and physical activities.

The programme, called Age Well Everyday (AWE), has led to the training of more than 110 volunteers to reach out to more elderly people.

Overall, more than 3,000 seniors have benefited from the AWE programme.

Some 8,000 individuals have also enrolled and benefited from various healthcare modules through the AWE e-learning training course launched in 2018.

The programme was mentioned in a book titled Ageing With Dignity, written by researchers and volunteers of the programme, which highlights positive ageing and dementia prevention.

In his speech at the launch of the book on Sunday (May 8) at the National University of Singapore, Mr Teo thanked the National University Health System’s (NUHS) Mind Science Centre, which published the book, its editors, Professor Kua Ee Heok and Associate Professor Rathi Mahendran, the contributors and those who helped produce the book.

Mr Teo said there are currently eight centres running the AWE programme, adding: "The programme is designed to delay cognitive deterioration, reduce anxiety and increase sociability, and, in so doing, help to delay the onset of dementia and improve the quality of life of seniors."

He paid tribute to the NUHS Mind Science Centre and the AWE programme, saying that they always had a special place in the heart of his late wife, Mrs Teo Poh Yim.

Mrs Teo died in October last year. She was 67.

Addressing the NUHS Mind Science Centre team and those who contributed to the AWE programme, Mr Teo said: "She fervently believed in your mission and your work, in helping both the young and the elderly to develop positive perspectives on ageing, and in the potential to transform the lives of people through rigorous evidence-based research and structured community programmes."

He added: "(My family and I) are honoured that the book has been dedicated in the memory of Poh Yim."

On the importance of raising awareness about dementia, Mr Teo said that among all diseases, dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death, and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among the elderly globally.

He noted that in Singapore, one in 10 seniors aged 60 and above has dementia.

"With increased life expectancy and our ageing population, we expect the number of people with this condition to increase. It is therefore critical to raise awareness of dementia and increase support for persons with the condition and their caregivers," said Mr Teo.

On the significance of the book, Prof Kua said: "There's a lot of negativity about ageing. Some may think that old people are a burden to society. But what we want people to know is that old people play a big part in the country. So a sense of dignity for them is so important."

Prof Kua, who is also NUHS Mind Science Centre's vice-chairman, added that a 10-year study on positive ageing and dementia prevention was condensed into the book so that more people can understand the importance of ageing with dementia and dignity.

The book costs $35 (excluding GST) and is available at major bookstores.

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