“We need to focus more on what persons living with dementia can still do despite the condition, rather than what they cannot do.” These were the words of Mr Jason Foo, CEO of Alzheimer’s Disease Association, at his opening address for the World Alzheimer’s Month 2019 Carnival, held on 21 Sep this year.
Themed “Let’s Talk About Dementia: End The Stigma”, the carnival aimed to encourage people to learn more about dementia. The free admission, full-day funfair was held at *SCAPE and featured good fun for a good cause, with a myriad of edu-tainment booths, as well as a variety of carnival snacks and activities.
Performances by ADA Family of Wisdom clients and caregivers showcased the zest for life that continues even after a dementia diagnosis, and a special Memories Café session which was open to members of the public gave many the opportunity to jump in and jam together with persons with dementia. Little steps which we hope will go a long way in normalising a dementia diagnosis and combating stigma.
The day also marked the launch of ADA’s new dementia awareness and stigma campaign. Titled #DespiteDementia, the campaign will be a long-term initiative for ADA, with the first year focusing on how persons with dementia and their families, with the proper support, can still carry on living their lives per usual despite the condition and its accompanying struggles.
The results of Alzheimer’s Disease International’s World Alzheimer Report for 2019 revealed a lack of global knowledge about dementia, resulting in widespread stigma and ignorance of the condition. A similar survey conducted in Singapore by ADA and Singapore Management University earlier this year also showed that stigma is an issue, with people with dementia feeling ignored and ashamed. These results show the reality of stigma for those with dementia currently, and emphasises the importance of increasing awareness and knowledge of the condition.
Kicking off the day was the first video in this year’s “Live #DespiteDementia” phase, “The Power of Family.” The video follows the lives of the Lim family; Peter Lim, 81, the head of the household, has been living with dementia for the past 10 years. His primary caregiver is his wife Quee Eng, 76, who is herself a breast cancer survivor. They have one child, Daniel, a 39-year-old who recently quit his full-time job to help care for his aged parents.
“Collaborating on this video with ADA was great for the whole family because it allowed my dad to share his personal story with the world. I think in Singapore, people still may not know what dementia is, or how to treat those around you who have dementia. My family and I have been stigmatised such as in restaurants, when my dad takes a bit longer to order his food. It’s these kinds of seemingly small acts – the glares, the whispers or the impatience – that we as a community need to fight against,” said Daniel.
The WAM 2019 Carnival was made possible through the generous support of Musim Mas Holdings, as well as the efforts of participating booth partners, the Forget Us Not campaign, and ADA volunteers and staff. Musim Mas’ donations also enables ADA to execute the #DespiteDementia campaign, which we hope will be a major step against dementia stigma in Singapore.
Check out the day’s highlights here: