More businesses can join in efforts to help those with dementia, caregivers: President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob (centre) said that a dementia-friendly Singapore can be achieved only when everyone plays a part. PHOTO: KEPPEL CORPORATION
President Halimah Yacob (centre) was at Dementia Singapore's New Horizon Centre to commemorate the donation, on Sept 15, 2022. PHOTO: HALIMAH YACOB/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - As Singapore's population ages and more people are expected to have dementia, businesses can join in the nation's effort to support those with dementia and their caregivers, President Halimah Yacob said.

A $1 million donation from Keppel Corporation's philanthropic arm, Keppel Care Foundation, to Dementia Singapore will help support the social service agency's activities for the next three years.

Madam Halimah was speaking at Dementia Singapore's New Horizon Centre in Toa Payoh on Thursday to commemorate the donation.

About $600,000 will be used to subsidise attendance fees for needy clients served by New Horizon Centres.

The centres provide daycare services to improve the well-being of not only those with dementia, but also their caregivers, who can be relieved of their duties during the day.

Madam Halimah said her mother had dementia in the few years before she died in 2015.

She added: "The main caregiver was my sister, and you can imagine how much of a strain that was on her personally."

Madam Halimah said her mother was an active person, who raised her and her four siblings after their father died.

"But when she had dementia, she became someone who completely lost her confidence; she was completely dependent."

She said her sister could not even step out of the house. Having a helper did not give the sister much respite as Madam Halimah's mother trusted only her older sister to take care of her.

The family took her to the market, thinking it was an activity that would give her some sense of normalcy as she used to work at a food stall.

"I asked her to stand beside my sister. But even then, she was so frightened and she did not want to."

Keppel Corporation chairman Danny Teoh said that with the expected rise in the number of people with dementia in Singapore, the group is pleased to support their needs and those of their caregivers, and increase the accessibility of dementia care services for the underprivileged.

Madam Halimah added that a dementia-friendly Singapore can be achieved only when everyone plays a part.

"For a start, simple everyday acts of kindness, empathy, encouragement and support towards persons living with dementia and their families will go a long way in reducing the stigma surrounding the condition.

"I look forward to the collective efforts of the people, public and private sectors to build a dementia-friendly Singapore that would allow us to normalise conversations about dementia, reduce associated stigma and achieve greater awareness and support for persons living with dementia and their caregivers."

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