Melissa’s story

An inspirational project by a local Singaporean Melissa Chan to support people with dementia and their caregivers in the community.

Enabling Village: Promoting social connections at supermarkets 

Yesterday’s post about seniors taking their own lives really hit a nerve and today, like a ray of sunshine, this article appeared in the Today’s papers online. It’s heartwarming to know that more is being done to create inclusion in the community.

A really great article by Dr Thang Leng Leng about a cool program happening in Singapore, the enabling village. I hope it will take off and be highly successful among the Singaporean community. An inclusive society is definitely the way to go! It’s also really good to know that NTUC LearningHub has started training 100 supermarket frontline staff to help senior customers, and especially in the areas of dementia. Good on you NTUC!

At this month’s opening of the Enabling Village — Singapore’s first community space for people with disabilities — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called on Singaporeans to continue building a more inclusive society by valuing everyone, and through active citizenship.

Source: Promoting social connections at supermarkets | TODAYonline

Individuality & Person Centred Care in Asia

Since a fortnight ago this tweet have been shared over 29,000 times and 21,720. Tweeted by Harudajin, he shares an unforgettable experience in his youth in primary school when his teacher shared with his students the meaning of individuality.

The teacher explained that when an instruction is provided to have the class write the word 晴, then everyone in  the class will write the word 晴. However, the result of the word 晴 will differ slightly from each student. However if given an instruction to write the word 晴 and the student wrote the word 雨, that is not viewed as individuality.

Below is the original tweet:

There is a lot of discussion about a social culture in Asia and the differences between the cultures between the East and the West. Individuality in this discussion is working together as a social being, but at the same time appreciating and accepting the differences that we exhibit as individuals. No two handwriting can be exactly the same and despite our very similar daily routine and habits, it’s the small intricacies and preferences that make us all different. Here the teacher explains that we don’t have to radically stand out to be different, we can all be different and still maintain a sense of cohesion and harmony without our culture.

No two handwriting can be exactly the same. Despite our very similar daily routine and habits, it’s the small intricacies and preferences that make us all different. Here the teacher explains that we don’t have to radically stand out to be different, we can all be different and still maintain a sense of cohesion and harmony without our culture, and that’s what individuality is all about.

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For Asians, harmony and cohesion are important factors and at times residents, and patients may not voice out our needs as they may not wish to inconvenience their carers and caregivers.

At a talk a few months ago about the Fukushima earthquakes, it was said that older adults that sought shelter in a gymnasium developed incontinence issues and muscle atrophy. Afraid that they were being disruptive and inconsiderate to fellow residents living in the open space temporary shelter, many remained sitting in their allocated space, not going to toilets allocated outside of the gymnasium.

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Image source: Japan Earthquake: Rescue, Recovery, and Reaction – The Atlantic

This scenario is not unfamiliar to nurses working in acute care, step down facilities, nursing home and other community care facilities where families complain about their love ones developing incontinence and decreased mobility. It’s a common case study where you have a person coming out of the hospital with incontinence and decreased mobility and nurses and loved ones are concerned about falls resulting in the person spending the rest of their life sitting in wheelchairs. Being put on pads due to their incontinence issues, the person may not wish to venture out in the public, and participate in activities reducing their social engagements and decreasing movement. So starts a vicious downward spiral where mobility is lost and depression sets in.

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All it takes is for us to care; to ask and encourage. To encourage our residents and patients and engage with them socially and to support movement. To ask about their preferences and how we can encourage our residents and patients to retain their independence and to maintain their mobility. This is a community effort, from governments to management to directors of nursing to the nurses and the care staff, we need to make time to care. Our residents and patients make an effort to not inconvenience us isn’t care a priority in healthcare in the first place?Person-centred care in Asia isn’t about being indulgent

Person-centred care in Asia is not about indulging a persons’ need for choices or the ability to be drastically different from everyone. It is about celebrating and supporting individuality and autonomy whilst maintaining harmony and social cohesion in the community. A fine balance, not in the pursuit of happiness but in a pursuit of peace. To be satisfied with the balance in life that brings us peace within.

it’s not 兴高采烈 but a 幸福美满的生活 that we yearn for.

Reference: Handwriting

 

Dementia Research Institute in Asia

Prime Minister announces funding for UK’s first National Dementia Research Institute – UK’s first Dementia Research Institute receive up to £150m of investment.

in 2006, it was announced that Dementia will be the next epidemic sweeping through Asia. Almost a decade on and numerous publications by academics and global organisations such as the World Health organisation and Alzheimer’s Disease International, little has been done in the areas of preventative measures of the condition. The condition now costing Asia billions of dollars and much suffering among caregivers is still seen to be a distant cousin of health issues such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Healthcare publications in Asia can still be seen making claims that dementia is reversible, and numerous clinicians are unaware that dementia is a terminal condition. Resulting in a large focus in the quantitative aspects, such as rehabilitation, life-prolonging procedures instead of focusing on qualitative; such as the maintenance of a person’s independence, dignity and overall quality of life.

More research is required in Asia to help find the balance between challenging cultural issues especially in the areas of prolonging life in dementia and maintaining a person’s quality of life. Perhaps in this technological age, Asia should come together to look into setting up collaborative research centres to work cohesively to find answers to culturally difficult care components for people with dementia and eventually find us a cure.

Reference

Prime Minister announces funding for UK’s first National Dementia Research Institute – Alzheimer’s Society

Dementia in the Asia Pacific Region: The Epidemic is Here

Looming dementia epidemic in Asia

Dementia in the Asia Pacific Region

 

Walking with my mother

Director Katsumi Sakaguchi’s newest film “Walking with My Mother”
Official selection of Tokyo International Film Festival 2014

Director Katsumi Sakaguchi captures the life of his mother, Suchi, 78 through film, as she lives with dementia and depression, coping with the loss of her daughter and then her beloved husband. In the film Katsumi documents a life of distress, frustration and grief as his mother tries to remain resilient against all the trials and tribulations that life has hurl against her. He captures his own feelings and emotions as he tries to understand the needs of his mother and his own, and to cope with the changes that life has brought for both of them. The film also showcases their travel back to Suchi’s hometown and the positive improvements that such a change brings.

Waijiang Music

A beautiful video on WaiJiang music and the use of music to honor and remember the ones you love.

This video provides an insight into the passionate Teochew musicians in Singapore. I’m still reeling from the fact that they don’t have a score and everything is memorised. It’s amazing, the commitment of the musicians. One of the older adults appeared to have difficulties going up the stairs, but he still made it up to go for their jamming session. People talk about how we need to find more appropriate music that reflects the era of the person with dementia, and songs that are culturally appropriate. We still have a team in Singapore that continues to carry this tradition on with fierce dedication, as they preserve and cherish our heritage and culture in Singapore.

If you are looking for traditional Teochew music, these musicians are the real deal.

3 caregivers that open the world to dementia through photography

I was talking to a friend about dementia, and I forget that there are people who have not come in contact with people with dementia. They have little awareness about dementia despite the information through the media and multiple health promotions campaigns. They tell me it’s just people being old and forgetful. That doesn’t even come close. We talked about dementia, but I get the feeling that the words were just empty nothingness sailing pass like the boats down the river on a hot summer’s day. I turned to Jake Hearth’s series of photos for help and that hit home hard. Giving the person a realistic glimpse of what dementia can be without the glitz and glamour of the media. After that experience, I thought perhaps it might be useful for others who may require photography as a medium to raise awareness about dementia.

Below are 3 sites that contain photographic life stories of love, courage and strength in the face of dementia.

1. This is what Early Onset Dementia looks like.

If you haven’t seen Jake’s photos, the link is at the bottom. Jake’s photos took the net by storm and his photos on Reddit went viral and before I knew it, I saw articles about his photos in the Huffington post, the mirror and even in the daily mail. His photos document the progress of his mum and his family in the last decade as they work to care for his mother, Jacquie, 58 who is living with Pick’s Disease. His photos have certainly touched my heart and many other and I am thankful for him to be sharing his photos of his family’s experience to help raise awareness of dementia.

From http://imgur.com/a/Wlyko with the caption: This was taken in 2005 or so. At this point, Jacquie had Pick’s Disease, but it had been misdiagnosed as menopause. She would be about 48 here.

Click here to check out Jake Heath’s photos.

Click here to check out Jake Heath’s video with a slideshow.


2. Mylene & Yu Heng

This beautiful 2014 photo blog by Yeo Kai Wen shares with the world, the story of Mylene, who is a domestic worker from the Philippines and Yu Heng, an elderly lady with dementia. In Singapore, some families may hire foreign domestic workers to help care for their family members with dementia. Mylene has been living with Yu Heng for 7 years now, and provides care for her 24 hours a day.

Click here to check out Yeo Kai Wen’s photos.


3. My Father Has Gifted Hands

from Atlanta

This is a project by a photographer only going by the name of J.R. who created a photo essay to share and document his family’s experience with his father’s living with frontotemporal dementia. It’s a very touching photo essay as J.R. chronicles photos of his father’s progress.

He touches on the beginning of dementia and the signs and symptoms that his father exhibits. He talks about his father’s progress with dementia and details incidents which marks each milestone and the achievements that his dad had done throughout his lifetime. This photo essay shares with people the challenges that family caregivers face and the sacrifices that they make to keep the family together.

Click here to view J.R.’s photos.

I hope these sites would prove useful and a big thank you to the caregivers and photographers who have shared these stories using photography to raise awareness about dementia.