‘Forget Us Not’ campaign aims to build dementia-friendly communities

‘Forget Us Not’ campaign aims to build dementia-friendly communities
KTPH Geriatric Centre director Dr Philip Yap (fourth from left) and Lien Foundation CEO Mr Lee Poh Wah (third from right), along with caregivers and representatives from dementia-friendly organisations and schools, at the launch of the Forget Me Not initiative on Jan 20, 2016. Photo: Louisa Tang/TODAY
Published: 1:41 PM, January 20, 2016
Updated: 6:46 PM, January 20, 2016
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SINGAPORE As a young boy, L Sakthisvaran often saw an elderly lady loitering around his void deck, and she would yell at the top of her voice and act erratically. Sometimes, passers-by would approach residents to find out more about her, but no one knew her identity.

“I would have realised she could have had dementia if I knew what I know now,” the 21-year-old Nanyang Polytechnic student said.

He attributed his new-found knowledge to a training session and talk on dementia conducted by Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). The session was part of a pilot of the “Forget Us Not” initiative, which was officially launched today (Jan 20) by KTPH and the Lien Foundation. 

The campaign aims to build dementia-friendly communities in Singapore, starting with Yishun housing estate, and improve awareness and understanding of dementia, both in businesses and among the public.

A team of KTPH staff will train organisation staff to be more dementia-friendly through customised, face-to-face sessions that involve hands-on activities, such as role-playing.

For example, a dementia sufferer could go to a supermarket and forget to pay for his groceries. Frontline staff could recognise his symptoms then and help out.

Members of the public can also sign up online to become “Dementia Friends”. They will receive a handbook with tips on how to recognise common symptoms of dementia, such as forgetting objects and faces,  and what to do upon encountering a dementia sufferer. They can also attend training sessions by KTPH.

So far, KTPH has conducted training with 23 organisations, businesses and schools, including McDonald’s and four retailers at North Point Shopping Centre in Yishun. 

Lien Foundation chief executive officer Lee Poh Wah said they aim to reach at least 100 organisations and train 10,000 Dementia Friends by this September. World Alzhemier’s Day falls on Sept 21.

KTPH and Lien Foundation also hope to scale up the campaign to more housing estates in the future, Mr Lee added. 

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