Yishun to become friendlier for lost dementia patients

More 'safe return points' will offer assistance and information

Nee Soon South Community Club is one of the Dementia Go-To-Points in the estate where the public can take a person with dementia who is lost. These "safe return points" also provide caregivers and the public with information and assistance on dementia. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Nee Soon South is set to become more dementia-friendly. Eight more go-to points, where the public can take people with dementia who are lost and wandering, will open from today.

These will be on top of the current 14 in Yishun.

These "safe return" points, called Dementia Go-To Points, also provide caregivers and the public information and assistance on dementia.

Businesses have been roped in to direct people who exhibit signs of dementia and who have lost their way to these points.

Grassroots adviser and an MP for Nee Soon GRC, Ms Lee Bee Wah, announced the addition of the eight go-to points yesterday.

Said Ms Lee: "We want those with dementia to live their lives normally and for caregivers to know that they are not alone."

  • Govt policies good, but fine-tuning needed: Bee Wah

  • Ms Lee Bee Wah, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, said Singapore's leaders have put good policies in place, but these still need fine-tuning.

    She was speaking to the media yesterday on the sidelines of an event to train more people in the community to help those with dementia.

    "In Singapore, we are very fortunate to have leaders with heart and sometimes they come up with policies that are not popular, but they know are good for our country in the long term," she said. "They bite the bullet and still carry out the policies - that is something that I really respect."

    On inequality, Ms Lee said it should be tackled on the education front. "Because it's not the amount of money that (we give) to help them. We should be equipping them with the necessary skills," she added.

    Ms Lee also said the Government has been trying different methods to reach out to people on the ground, and that she encourages more people to come forward and share ideas.

    She also hopes for Singapore to become a more gracious society. "One thing I really wish to see is more of giving back to society, rather than just asking, 'What do I get out of all this?'," she said.

    Felicia Choo

"There are misconceptions that dementia only happens when we age or that it is 'part and parcel' of ageing. These Dementia Go-To Points are important to educate our residents about dementia, and what we can do to reduce the risk."

She was speaking at a training session on dementia conducted by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) yesterday. It was attended by 70 grassroots leaders and volunteers at Nee Soon South Community Club.

There are around 70 Dementia Go-To Points here. AIC is working with Bukit Batok East and Teck Ghee to set up points there.

Yishun is one of six designated dementia-friendly communities here. The other five are MacPherson, Hong Kah North, Bedok, Queenstown and Fengshan. There are plans to increase the number to 15 in the next three years or so.

Currently, one in 10 Singaporeans aged 60 and above has dementia. But by 2030, this number is expected to more than double to 103,000.

Those 85 and older at greater risk

Ms Lee also shared her first-hand experience with dementia, when her mother-in-law suffered from the disease in her 80s.

"Sometimes she would call me to tell me that my father-in-law is on his way to my home, but actually he had already passed on a long time ago," said Ms Lee of her late mother-in-law.

Those aged 85 or older are particularly at risk of dementia, with a 50 per cent chance of getting the brain disease.

Secondary 2 student Arnesh Ryan, 14, was prompted to attend the training session with his grandmother, after an incident with his friend's grandfather, who has dementia.

Usually cheerful and chatty, the 86-year-old man left his home in Yishun to buy food for Arnesh and his friend but failed to return. Police found him in Sembawang the next day. "I felt very scared because he didn't talk much to us... so I want to learn about dementia and how it affects our lives," Arnesh said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2018, with the headline Yishun to become friendlier for lost dementia patients. Subscribe