SINGAPORE – Over 2,000 people have been trained to recognize and help elderly citizens with dementia through a community initiative set up in Yishun, a town located in the northern part of Singapore, according to local media on Thursday.
Local students, volunteers and staff members from hospitals, mosques and churches, as well as from businesses, such as McDonald’s, have been trained to spot people with dementia and help them, or refer them to aid agencies.
In order to provide information about the condition, guidelines will be sent to 58,000 local households and companies.
Through raised awareness and training, citizens are encouraged to understand both sufferers and caregivers.
Last year, Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that “tackling dementia needs to go beyond having the ‘hardware,’ such as infrastructure, to fostering stronger community support and creating dementia-friendly communities,” according to the Straits Times newspaper.
Yishun was chosen because it has a significant number of elderly residents with about 10 percent or 20,000 of its residents aged 65 and above.
The local Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) and Singapore philanthropic facility the Lien Foundation are behind the initiative named “Forget Us Not” (FUN), an independent organization which aims to raise awareness of the growing number of people with dementia. This includes educating the public about the everyday problems that dementia sufferers face and ways for the public to support them.
Lee Poh Wah, chief executive of the Lien Foundation, said: “Often, people with dementia are stigmatized. The shame associated with dementia is exacerbated when people do not understand its symptoms and react poorly towards sufferers. Because of its prevalence and high cost to society, we need to make dementia-friendly communities the ‘new normal’ in Singapore, starting with Yishun.”