Yishun to get 8 more 'safe return' points where the public can take those with dementia who are lost

Participants at the dementia go-to point training held at Nee Soon South Community Club on May 13, 2018. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Grassroots adviser and an MP for Nee Soon GRC Lee Bee Wah speaking at the dementia go-to point training at Nee Soon South Community Club on May 13, 2018. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - 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 found to be lost and wandering, will open from Monday (May 14).

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 also 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 on Sunday.

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

She added: "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) on Sunday. 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 these points there.

Yishun is one of six designated dementia-friendly communities here. The other five are MacPherson, Hong Kah North, Bedok, Queenstown and Fengshan.

Nee Soon South Community Club is one of the 70 dementia go-to points around the island. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

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.

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 has 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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