“The Republic has to find ways for dementia patients to remain in their home environment, said Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law in an interview with The Straits Times during her visit to the Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA).
Ms Indranee commenced the visit on Wednesday, February 22, at the ADA Resource and Training Centre (ARTC), the training and consultancy arm of ADA. This was followed by visits to the Caregiver Support Centre, and Family of Wisdom Centre, Bendemeer, where she got the opportunity to experience group activities such as physical exercise and art & craft with the clients and their caregivers.
“Many of them actually feel most comfortable in familiar surroundings, that means at home,” said Ms Indranee who also chatted with the clients.
The Budget this year saw greater contribution to community mental health efforts, with $160 million to be set aside over five years. Other plans include building more dementia-friendly communities, providing more support for caregivers and public education on dementia.
According to findings by the Institute of Mental Health in 2015, one in 10 people aged 60 and above has dementia. The condition affects about 40,000 people in Singapore, and the number is expected to double by 2030 as the population ages.
“It is about trying to make sure that you’ve the things in place so that the people who need help know where to go and can get access to it,” said Ms Indranee.
To help people with dementia lead normal lives, dementia-friendly towns will enable more people with the condition to remain in the community they are familiar with, instead of nursing homes or daycare facilities.
“No matter how many facilities, how many daycare centres or how many nursing homes you have, you are not going to be able to cope – numbers are just rising too fast,” said Mr Jason Foo, ADA’s Chief Executive.
“I’m glad the government is putting more resources in community mental health efforts, because such efforts are resource-intensive. You need more staff and time to reach out to the wider community and train them.”
Mr Foo also added that doing more to help people with mental health issues is vital, given the rising incidence of such conditions.