I used to visit my former mathematics teacher and her mother when I was 18.
They lived on the 33rd floor in one of the HDBs in the Toa Payoh estate, where I'd go to spend time with them, and enjoy a plate of fragrant Hainanese chicken rice.
Popo (or 'grandma' in English) was what I've come to called my teacher's mother.
She is good-natured, always smiling and child-like.
Having been diagnosed with dementia a few years back, my conversations with her can be simplified into the same 4 sentences that are repeated every week:
"我很久没有看到你了" (Translated: I haven't seen you for so long!)
"你有几个弟弟妹妹?" (Translated: How many brothers and sisters do you have?)
"你的弟弟几岁?" (Translated: How old is your brother?) (She's seen my younger brother multiple times.)
"你好乖哦" (Translated: You are so obedient)
Not that I minded, but the point is: it was the first time I was exposed to handling someone with dementia on a personal level.
Dementia affects 10 per cent of Singaporeans above age 60, and half of those above 85 have it. Yet, many of us will be at a loss, should there be a time where we have to deal with caring for a loved one with dementia.
Caring for persons with dementia is difficult. To better prepare for such a situation, here's a general guide to help you navigate through dealing with dementia.
TL;DR: WHAT HAPPENS IF MY PARENTS GET DEMENTIA? A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE.PHOTO: Seedly
STEP 1: KNOW AND PREPARE FOR THE COSTS YOU MAY FACE
Dementia is a progressive disease, and a person's needs will change over time.
Here are some costs you may want to track when caring for someone with dementia:
COMMON CARE COSTS INCLUDE:
- Ongoing medical treatment for Alzheimer's-related symptoms, diagnosis and follow-up visits
- Treatment or medical equipment for other medical conditions
- Safety-related expenses e.g Home Modifications
- Prescription drugs
- Personal care supplies
- Adult day care services
- In-home care services
- Full-time residential care services
Tip: Care costs will vary depending upon where you live.
Have a family meeting to discuss how much future care might cost and to make financial plans. Consider using professional legal and financial advisors for guidance.
|Day Care||$400 and $1,500/ month (before subsidies)|
|Dementia Day Care||General: $900-$1,700/month (before subsidy) Enhanced: $900-$1,600/month (before subsidy)|
|For Hospice Day Care||$10-$15 per visit|
|Respite Care||Range from $100-$150 a day|
ALSO READ: Taller men may have a lower risk of dementia
STEP 2: LEARNING TO CARE FOR PERSONS WITH DEMENTIA
1. HANDLING MEMORY LOSS AND CONFUSION
When you are living with someone with dementia, it is natural to observe a progressive decline in cognitive functions.
This includes memory loss and confusion.
To help tackle this, it is good to set up certain processes in your home.
Setting up a routine that allows for continued engagement helps, occupying dementia patients with simple activities such as jigsaw puzzles, solving math questions, walking around neighbourhood etc.
By keeping their minds occupied, you can help slow down the decline in cognitive functions.
That aside, here are some simple steps suggested by Jaga-Me, that can help you cope with memory loss:
- Provide memory triggers such as photographs to remind them of things or events
- Write reminders for your loved ones, such as medication and meal schedules, appointments, etc.
- Label things for them,, sot hat they can be as independent as possible.
- Communicate simply to reduce misunderstandings.
2. LOSS OF COMMUNICATION
The loss of communication may be hard for loved ones to deal with.
As you try your best to empathise with them, you can improve communication by keeping conversations short and direct, removing distractions when talking (e.g turn of the TV), and asking simple, specific questions one at a time.
Due to confusion, persons with dementia may wander aimlessly.
To mitigate your loved one getting lost, you can take the following precautions:
- Join a Dementia Friendly Community via the Dementia Friends Mobile App - this provides you with the community support to help you keep a lookout on your elderly, in cases where he/she wanders.
- Stick to a consistent routine - Create a regular day plan, signing your elderly up to a Senior Activity Centre of activities at your nearby Community Club may be useful
- Get them to wear a tracking device - to help you locate your loved one in the event they get lost.
- Keep records of frequented places, and points of contacts - this may with a stall owner at the market your loved one may frequent or your neighbours around the area!
When a person has dementia, you will have to consider things such as bathing and toileting, to modifying your home.
This list is definitely not exhaustive, and you can refer to more care options at this dementia care guide.
ALSO READ: Head injury boosts dementia risk: study
STEP 3: FIND APPROPRIATE (AND SUSTAINABLE) HELP AND SUPPORT
1. DEMENTIA DAY-CARE CENTRES IN SINGAPORE
Daycare centres provide care for persons with dementia during daytime working hours.
The staff of these centres are also trained to provide education and support for family members so as to help them continue to care for their persons with dementia at home.
|Anglican Senior Centre (Hillview)||4 Hillview Rise #02-22 Singapore 667979||6801 0499|
|Apex Harmony Lodge||10 Pasir Ris Walk (Off Pasir Ris Drive 3) Singapore 518240||6585 2265|
|HOPE Dementia Daycare Centre||9 Upper Changi Road North Singapore 50770||6546 5668|
|New Horizon Centre (Bukit Batok/Jurong Point, Tampines , Toa Payoh)||Blk 511 Bukit Batok Street 52 #01-211 Singapore 650511 1 Jurong West Central 2 #04-04 Jurong Point Shopping Centre Singapore 648886 Blk 362 Tampines Street 34 #01-377 Singapore 520362 Blk 157 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 #01-1195 Singapore 310157||6565 9958 (Bukit Batok) 6790 1650 (Jurong) 6786 5373 (Tampines) 6353 8734 (Toa Payoh)|
|SASCO Day Activity Centre||Blk 30 Telok Blangah Rise #01-316 Singapore 090030||6276 8713|
|St Andrew’s Senior Care (Henderson)||303 Henderson Road Singapore 108925 Located within St Andrew’s Nursing Home.||6430 8049|
|St Andrew’s Senior Care (JOY-Connect)||5 Beach Road Singapore 190005||6291 1861|
|St Andrew’s Senior Care (Queenstown)||11 Jalan Penjara Singapore 149380 Located within St Andrew’s Nursing Home.||6877 4681|
|St Andrew’s Senior Care (Tampines)||Our Tampines Hub 1 Tampines Walk #04-33 Singapore 529684||6240 0366|
|Sunlove Dementia Day Care Centre||70 Buangkok View Singapore 534190||6387 3593|
|Sunshine Welfare Action Mission (SWAMI Home) Dementia Day Care Centre||5 Sembawang Walk Singapore 757717||6257 6117|
|The Salvation Army (Bedok) Multi-Service Centre for the Elderly||Blk 121 Bedok North Road #01-163 Singapore 460121||6445 1630|
|Thong Teck Home for Senior Citizens||91 Geylang East Avenue 2 Singapore 389759||6846 0069|
|Yong-En Care Centre||Blk 335A Smith Street #03-57 Chinatown Complex Singapore 051335||6225 1002|
2. HOME HELP SERVICES
Home help services basically support the elderly in their own homes through:
- Meal Delivery
- Laundry Service
- Personal Care Hygiene
- Medical Escort Service
You can seek help and find out more about such services by contacting any of these organisations:
|Bethesda Care & Counselling Services Centre||300 Bedok North Ave 3 Singapore 469717||6445 1500|
|Comfort Keepers (Toa Payoh / Bishan)||627 Aljunied Road #07-03 Pacific Building Singapore 38983||6282 0577|
|Comfort Keepers (Bedok)||1301 Bedok North Ave 4 #04-02 Goldbell Centre Singapore 489945||6446 7361|
|Comfort Keepers (Bukit Merah)||221 Henderson Road #07-18 Henderson Building Singapore 159557||6336 3376|
|Dorcas Home Care Service||Blk 105 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-1912 Singapore 160105||6377 5183|
|Generation Home Care Pte Ltd||1 Kim Seng Promenade #15-12 Great World City West Tower Singapore 237994||6402 6407|
|Loving Heart Multi-Service Centre||15 Whampoa Drive Singapore 327725||6254 3006|
|Handicaps Welfare Association (Whampoa)||210 Jurong East Street 21 #01-389 Singapore 600210||6897 4766|
|Moral Home Help Service (East)||2 Chai Chee Lane Singapore 469030||6441 6280|
|Moral Home Help Service (West)||301 Henderson Road Singapore 108931||6273 2239|
|NTUC Health||Islandwide||6715 6715|
|Sunlove (Home Help Service)||70 Buangkok View Singapore 534190||6386 9312|
|SWAMI Home||5 Sembawang Walk Singapore 757717||6257 6117|
|Tembusu Rehab Centre – Sathya Sai Social Service||715 Jurong West Street 71 #01-47 Singapore 640715||6790 7226|
|Thong Teck Home for Senior Citizens||91 Geylang East Ave 2 Singapore 389759||6846 0069|
|Touch Home Care||Blk 173 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 #01-1264 Singapore 310173||6258 6797|
There are other forms of help caregivers and persons with dementia can seek.
|Type of Service||Function|
|Home Medical Services||Encompasses home visits by doctors to carry out medical consultation and treatment for someone who needs medical attention. The doctors also work with the other team members to look into other aspects of care needs required by the person.|
|Home Nursing Services||Visits by nurses to provide nursing care such as wound dressings, changing of ryles tubes, monitor blood pressures and also basic caregiver training on how to care for their loved ones at home.|
|Respite Services||Respite Service is provided for caregivers who need to take a break from their caregiving tasks.|
You can find a full list of contacts for each of these services by clicking on the hyperlinks above!
CARING FOR SOMEONE WITH DEMENTIA IN SINGAPORE
Living with dementia can be a real scary, both for the patient and the caregiver.
As it is no easy task, remember to seek appropriate help when needed, and form a healthy support network to help you through this situation.
This article was first published in Seedly.