Seniors and caregivers benefit from community mental health and dementia programmes

Attendees at the Alzheimer's Disease Association's Caregivers' Appreciation Gala Luncheon 2019 on Jan 5, 2019.
Attendees at the Alzheimer's Disease Association's Caregivers' Appreciation Gala Luncheon 2019 on Jan 5, 2019.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Over the past year, some 900 seniors and caregivers have benefited from public education programmes aimed at raising awareness of mental health and dementia conditions.

These programmes were carried out, not by the Government, but by the Alzheimer's Disease Association's (ADA) community support team.

The team also reached out to people with dementia and their caregivers to provide allied health services such as counselling and home support.

The initiative was cited by Senior Minister of State for Health and Law Edwin Tong in a speech on Saturday (Jan 5) about how community support plays a critical role in making Singapore a Singapore a dementia-inclusive society.

With one in 10 seniors aged 60 years and above estimated to have dementia, they and their caregivers will require stronger support, he noted.

Speaking at the association's Caregivers' Appreciation Gala Luncheon 2019, he said community partners like ADA play a critical role in providing information and socio-emotional support to people with mental health conditions and dementia and their caregivers.

"Some caregivers have shared with me that not only have they been greatly encouraged by the community support, they have also become more empowered through these programmes. They now know how to manage behavioural changes displayed by their loved ones, and are more aware of community resources which they can tap to support them in caregiving."

 
 
 

During the luncheon at Resorts World Sentosa, 150 caregivers were recognised for their dedication and hard work.

Guests also enjoyed music and dance performances by National University of Singapore students.

Mr Jason Foo, the ADA's chief executive officer, said: "Each caregiving journey can be extremely challenging, and the stress can be compounded by insufficient knowledge, lack of time due to work responsibilities and weak social or family support. Hence, it is very heartening to have a group of university students giving their time to appreciate the caregivers for their caregiving efforts. It is such community and inter-generational support which will make Singapore a dementia-inclusive society."

At the event, ADA and charity RHT Rajan Menon Foundation also agreed to collaborate on the foundation's Successful Ageing Project. The project aims to develop a comprehensive and integrated system of care and support as well as an age-friendly environment for the elderly in the community.

One of the ongoing initiatives under the Successful Ageing Project is the publication of the eldercare guidebook with useful information on ageing, including dementia, home and road safety and financial wealth management.

"We want to encourage more of such local efforts, where the community pools resources to reach out to caregivers and seniors with dementia who need support," said Mr Tong. "We recognise that being a caregiver is not easy, and it takes a whole-of-society effort to support seniors with dementia to age-in-place in the community."

The guidebook is available for download here.