New app allows the elderly with dementia and their caregivers to go on a trip down memory lane

The app contains multimedia features and images of relatable everyday items from Singapore's yesteryear. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Caregivers can now access an app which can help in interacting with elderly dementia patients.

Launched on Monday (Sept 28) by Singapore's National Heritage Board (NHB), National Museums Liverpool and the British Council, the local version of the digital application contains multimedia features and images of relatable everyday items from Singapore's yesteryear.

Originally launched in the United Kingdom in 2014, the My House of Memories application 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 memory 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 HDB flats in Toa Payoh, a reminder for many seniors of their first home after moving out of kampungs.

NHB's deputy chief executive in charge of policy and community, Mr 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."

Mr Lau Han Cheong using the My House of Memories app, with assistance from occupational therapist Kuo Yen Chun. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

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, National Museums Liverpool will partner with 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.

A total of 10 training sessions will be organised for up to 400 health and social care staff and caregivers on how to use the app and how stimulating and sharing memories about their life history is important to support people living with dementia and their families.

Readers can download the My House of Memories app for free via the App Store and Google Play Store, as well as from this website.

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

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