A Step-By-Step Guide to Dementia: What Happens If My Parents Get Dementia?
What Happens If My Parents Get Dementia?
I used to visit my former Mathematics teacher and her mother in Toa Payoh regularly when I was 18.
Popo (or ‘grandma’ in English) was what I’ve come to call my teacher’s mother.
She is good-natured and always smiling.
And I loved spending time with her.
After she was diagnosed with dementia, she became almost child-like.
After a while, my conversations with her started to revolve around these same 3 sentences that are repeated every week:
“我很久没有看到你了!” (Chinese: I haven’t seen you for so long!)
“你有几个弟弟妹妹？” (Chinese: How many brothers and sisters do you have?)
“你的弟弟几岁？”(Chinese: How old is your brother?) (She’s seen my younger brother multiple times.)
Not that I minded, of course.
But the thing is, this was the first time I had to watch someone whom I knew (and loved dearly) slowly lose themselves to dementia.
And frankly, it was debilitating.
In Singapore, dementia affects 10 per cent of Singaporeans above 60 years old.
And half of those above 85 have it.
Yet, many of us will be at a loss, when we have find ourselves having to care for a loved one suffering from dementia.
In order to better prepare ourselves in case we ever meet this situation (touchwood).
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate and deal with dementia.
Step 1: Know and Prepare For The Costs You Might Face
Dementia is a progressive disease, and a person’s needs will change over time.
You know how we always talk about having an emergency fund?
This is when it’ll come in handy because of these costs you might incur:
- Ongoing medical treatment for Alzheimer’s-related symptoms, diagnosis and follow-up visits
- Treatment or medical equipment for other medical conditions
- Safety-related expenses e.g Home Modifications
- Prescription drugs
- Personal care supplies
- Adult daycare services
- In-home care services
- Full-time residential care services
Tip: Care costs will vary depending upon where you live. Have a family meeting to discuss how much future care might cost and to make financial plans. Consider using professional legal and financial advisors for guidance.
|Day Care||$400 and $1,500/ month (before subsidies)|
|Dementia Day Care||General:
$900-$1,700/month (before subsidy)
|For Hospice Day Care||$10-$15 per visit|
|Respite Care||Range from $100-$150 a day|
Source: Agency for Integrated Care
Step 2: Learning to Care for Persons with Dementia
1. Handling Memory Loss and Confusion
When you are living with someone with dementia, it is natural to observe a progressive decline in cognitive functions. This includes memory loss and confusion.
To help tackle this, it is good to set up certain processes in your home. Setting up a routine that allows for continued engagement helps, occupying dementia patients with simple activities such as jigsaw puzzles, solving math questions, walking around neighbourhood etc.
By keeping their minds occupied, you can help slow down the decline in cognitive functions.
That aside, here are some simple steps suggested by Jaga-Me Home Care, that can help you cope with memory loss:
- Provide memory triggers such as photographs to remind them of things or events
- Write reminders for your loved ones, such as medication and meal schedules, appointments, etc.
- Label things for them, so that they can be as independent as possible.
- Communicate simply to reduce misunderstandings.
2. Loss of Communication
The loss of communication may be hard for loved ones to deal with. As you try your best to empathise with them, you can improve communication by keeping conversations short and direct, removing distractions when talking (e.g turn of the TV), and asking simple, specific questions one at a time.
Due to confusion, persons with dementia may wander aimlessly. To mitigate your loved one getting lost, you can take the following precautions:
- Download the Dementia Friends Mobile App – this provides you with the resources and support to care for persons of dementia.
You can also sign up as Dementia Friend to show support and be part of the community look-out when a lost person with dementia is reported. Should you come across someone with dementia who is lost, you can use the app to report sighting him/ her, and/or alert the caregiver if you happen to find their loved one.
- Stick to a consistent routine – Create a regular day plan, signing your elderly up to a Senior Activity Centre of activities at your nearby Community Club may be useful
- Get them to wear a tracking device – to help you locate your loved one in the event they get lost.
- Keep records of frequented places, and points of contacts – this may with a stall owner at the market your loved one may frequent or your neighbours around the area!
When a person has dementia, you will have to consider things such as bathing and toileting, to modifying your home.
This list is definitely not exhaustive, and you can refer to more care options at this dementia care guide.
Step 3: Find Appropriate (and Sustainable) Help and Support
Note: most of the resources listed here are from Alzheimer’s Disease Association but we’ve added a few that we’ve found while scouring the net too!
1. Dementia Daycare Centres In Singapore
Daycare centres provide care for persons with dementia during daytime working hours.
The staff of these centres are also trained to provide education and support for family members so as to help them continue to care for their persons with dementia at home.
|Active Global Caregivers||Telok Blangah Parcview Senior Care Centre & Active Ageing Hub, Blk 92 Telok Blangah St 31, #01-255, S100092|
Ghim Moh Edge Senior Care Centre & Active Ageing Hub, Blk 31A Ghim Moh Link, S272031
|Anglican Senior Centre (Hillview)||4 Hillview Rise #02-22|
|Apex Harmony Lodge||10 Pasir Ris Walk|
(Off Pasir Ris Drive 3)
|HOPE Dementia Daycare Centre||9 Upper Changi Road North|
|New Horizon Centre (Bukit Batok/Jurong Point, Tampines , Toa Payoh)||Blk 511 Bukit Batok Street 52 #01-211|
1 Jurong West Central 2
#04-04 Jurong Point Shopping Centre
Blk 362 Tampines Street 34
Blk 157 Toa Payoh Lorong 1
|6565 9958 (Bukit Batok)
6790 1650 (Jurong)
6786 5373 (Tampines)
6353 8734 (Toa Payoh)
|SASCO Day Activity Centre||Blk 30 Telok Blangah Rise|
|St Andrew’s Senior Care (Henderson)||303 Henderson Road|
Located within St Andrew’s Nursing Home.
|St Andrew’s Senior Care (JOY-Connect)||5 Beach Road|
|St Andrew’s Senior Care (Queenstown)||11 Jalan Penjara|
Located within St Andrew’s Nursing Home.
|St Andrew’s Senior Care (Tampines)||Our Tampines Hub|
1 Tampines Walk #04-33
|Sunlove Dementia Day Care Centre||70 Buangkok View|
|Sunshine Welfare Action Mission (SWAMI Home) Dementia Day Care Centre||5 Sembawang Walk|
|The Salvation Army (Bedok) Multi-Service Centre for the Elderly||Blk 121 Bedok North Road|
|Thong Teck Home for Senior Citizens||91 Geylang East Avenue 2|
|Yong-En Care Centre||Blk 335A Smith Street #03-57|
2. Home Help Services
Home help services basically support the elderly in their own homes through:
- Meal Delivery
- Laundry Service
- Personal Care Hygiene
- Medical Escort Service
You can seek help and find out more about such services by contacting any of these organisations:
|Active Global Caregivers||51 Goldhill Plaza, #12-11, Singapore 308900.||6536 0086|
|Bethesda Care & Counselling Services Centre||300 Bedok North Ave 3|
|Comfort Keepers (Toa Payoh / Bishan)||627 Aljunied Road|
#07-03 Pacific Building
|Comfort Keepers (Bedok)||1301 Bedok North Ave 4|
#04-02 Goldbell Centre
|Comfort Keepers (Bukit Merah)||221 Henderson Road|
#07-18 Henderson Building
|Dorcas Home Care Service||Blk 105 Jalan Bukit Merah|
|Generation Home Care Pte Ltd||1 Kim Seng Promenade|
#15-12 Great World City West Tower
|Loving Heart Multi-Service Centre||15 Whampoa Drive|
|Handicaps Welfare Association (Whampoa)||210 Jurong East Street 21|
|Homage||157B Rochor Rd|
|Moral Home Help Service (East)||2 Chai Chee Lane|
|Moral Home Help Service (West)||301 Henderson Road|
|NTUC Health||Islandwide||6715 6715
|Sunlove (Home Help Service)||70 Buangkok View|
|SWAMI Home||5 Sembawang Walk|
|Tembusu Rehab Centre – Sathya Sai Social Service||715 Jurong West Street 71|
|Thong Teck Home for Senior Citizens||91 Geylang East Ave 2|
|Touch Home Care||Blk 173 Toa Payoh Lorong 1|
There are other forms of help caregivers and persons with dementia can seek.
All of which provide different functions:
|Type of Service||Function|
|Home Medical Services||Encompasses home visits by doctors to carry out medical consultation and treatment for someone who needs medical attention. The doctors also work with the other team members to look into other aspects of care needs required by the person.|
|Home Nursing Services||Visits by nurses to provide nursing care such as wound dressings, changing of ryles tubes, monitor blood pressures and also basic caregiver training on how to care for their loved ones at home.|
|Respite Services||Respite Service is provided for caregivers who need to take a break from their caregiving tasks.|
Caring for Someone with Dementia in Singapore
Living with dementia can be a real scary, both for the patient and the caregiver.
As it is no easy task, remember to seek appropriate help when needed, and form a healthy support network to help you through this situation.
If you’re worried that you will get dementia yourself, here’s how you can make a Lasting Power of Attorney to safeguard your future!