SINGAPORE - According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), 20,000 Singapore residents aged 60 and above are living with dementia in Singapore. This number is projected to increase to about 53,000 by 2020.
In response to these worrying figures, HPB has launched a new 12-week wellbeing programme aimed at encouraging seniors to take the first step in reducing their risk of dementia.
The 'Mental First Aid Kit', targeting seniors 50 years and above, will include information on the warning signs of dementia to help seniors and caregivers detect dementia early for better management.
The Kit will include a series of workshops and activities, with a module on cognitive skills training.
Mr Ang Hak Seng, CEO of HPB said that studies have shown that brain function starts to decline with age but dementia is not a normal part of ageing.
"This is where the Mental First Aid Kit comes in. For instance, during drama and role-play sessions, seniors are required to create a storyline and put up a group skit.
"This will boost their memory and enhance their social connectedness as well as provide fun and entertainment," Mr Ang said.
During the cognitive skills training sessions, seniors will be taught simple steps to sharpen their memory. One method is through association with items that are meaningful to them.
To kick off the programme, HPB will be partnering the Marine Parade Family Service Centre and the Grassroots Organisations to target 2,500 seniors from Marine Parade to sign up for the Mental First Aid Kit.
The constituency was chosen for its greying population, with one in five residents aged 65 and above. The Mental First Aid Kit is in response to the recently completed first phase of a five-year pilot study on the needs of the elderly residing in Marine Parade, which showed that 7.8 per cent of residents there are at risk of dementia, higher than the current national average of 5.2 per cent.
Moving forward, HPB intends to expand the Mental First Aid Kit to improve the overall mental health of about 6,000 residents above 60 residing there.
HPB will set up a Healthy Lifestyle Corner at the Marine Parade Community Club as a one-stop hub for health related information or resources.
dditionally, a healthy lifestyle programme for seniors which includes components of physical activity and nutrition will also be rolled out to complement the Mental First Aid Kit. Seniors will also be encouraged to join Health Qigong and Brisk Walking Interest Groups.
Following the introduction of the Mental First Aid Kit in Marine Parade, it will be rolled out to 87 other community locations in Singapore within three years.