Memory app for elderly patients with dementia and their caregivers

Right: Mr Lau Han Cheong, 86, assisted by occupational therapist Kuo Yen Chun, 35, using the My House of Memories app (above), which contains multimedia features and images of relatable everyday items from Singapore's yesteryear. The app is a result
Mr Lau Han Cheong, 86, assisted by occupational therapist Kuo Yen Chun, 35, using the My House of Memories app (above), which contains multimedia features and images of relatable everyday items from Singapore's yesteryear. The app is a result of a tie-up between Singapore's National Heritage Board, the National Museums Liverpool and the British Council.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
Right: Mr Lau Han Cheong, 86, assisted by occupational therapist Kuo Yen Chun, 35, using the My House of Memories app (above), which contains multimedia features and images of relatable everyday items from Singapore's yesteryear. The app is a result
Above: Mr Lau Han Cheong, 86, assisted by occupational therapist Kuo Yen Chun, 35, using the My House of Memories app, which contains multimedia features and images of relatable everyday items from Singapore's yesteryear. The app is a result of a tie-up between Singapore's National Heritage Board, the National Museums Liverpool and the British Council.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Caregivers can now access an app which can help them in interacting with their elderly dementia patients.

Launched yesterday by Singapore's National Heritage Board (NHB), the National Museums Liverpool and the British Council, the local version of the digital app contains multimedia features and images of relatable everyday items from Singapore's yesteryear.

Originally launched in Britain in 2014, the My House of Memories app has also been adapted for users in the United States.

Similar to a digital scrapbook, it draws on the power of familiar items - from the 1930s to the 1990s - to evoke memories and help users share personal stories with their caregivers.

The items featured in the local version of the app include 100 objects from Singapore's National Collection and 11 additional objects from the Alzheimer's Disease Association. They include the Setron television set, the first locally manufactured black-and-white TV set in 1964, as well as a photograph of the first Housing Board flats in Toa Payoh, a reminder for many seniors of their first home after moving out of kampungs.

NHB's deputy chief executive (policy and community) Alvin Tan said: "We noticed that our audience profile is changing as Singapore's population ages, and we wanted to create an age-friendly, customisable heritage resource that uses objects and images from our National Collection to serve as memory triggers and conversation starters for seniors, people living with dementia and their caregivers."

One user who found the app engaging was Mr Lau Han Cheong, a participant from NTUC Health Day Centre for Seniors (Bukit Batok West).

The 86-year-old said: "Usually, we see pictures of people but not items. These are images of ordinary items from the old days, some of which are not around any more. It is easy to choose which photos to look at and some of them help me recollect the past."

The app is a result of a tie-up between the three parties to jointly develop and present the broader House of Memories dementia-awareness training programme in Singapore.

 
 
 

As part of this programme, the National Museums Liverpool will partner NHB and the Agency for Integrated Care to provide museum-led, dementia-awareness training for health and social care professionals, families and care partners of people living with dementia.

Readers can download the My House of Memories app for free via the App Store and Google Play Store, as well as from https://go.gov.sg/silverhubs.

The content on the My House of Memories app will be translated into Chinese, Malay and Tamil next year to reach out to more seniors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2020, with the headline 'Memory app for elderly patients with dementia and their caregivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe