Woodlands to engage young in dementia outreach initiatives, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Woodlands to engage young in dementia outreach initiatives

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Young people in Woodlands will have a key role to play as the town becomes a dementia-friendly community.

A new Dementia Friends Mobilisation Team will be formed next month to engage young people in dementia outreach initiatives, as part of the Woodlands Dementia-Friendly Community (DFC) launched yesterday.

Woodlands is one of eight DFCs in Singapore and is the first one to adopt such a proactive approach for young people.

The other DFCs are located in Yishun, MacPherson, Hong Kah North, Queenstown, Bedok, Fengshan and Bukit Batok East.

"This team is made up of youth volunteers, and what we hope to do is to involve young people in addressing this problem, because this is not just an old-person problem," said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin.

Speaking at the Family Health and Wellness Carnival at Kampung Admiralty to mark Grandparents' Day, Mr Amrin said it is important for young people to develop empathy and understand the challenges that seniors face, and play a part in helping them.

Mr Amrin, who is an MP for Sembawang GRC, said the Dementia Friends Mobilisation Team will educate young people on what to do and how they can help when they encounter someone with dementia.

"I think it is important, because the seniors like to be in the presence of young people. It reminds them of their childhood, reminds them of their youth, and it gives them energy and gives them life."

The mobilisation team will reach out to residents, merchants, students and hawkers to raise awareness about dementia, and also befriend and engage seniors at home through sports and exercise.

If Woodlands residents with dementia are reported missing, the team will also be activated to look out for them.

The mobilisation team will be led by social service agency Awwa and Woodlands grassroots organisations, and is supported by the Agency for Integrated Care, Republic Polytechnic and Woodlands Community Sports Club.

Besides the mobilisation team, other efforts to make Woodlands more dementia-friendly include the creation of 15 go-to points that lost people with dementia can be taken to.

Staff at these go-to points are trained to calm the lost individuals down and help them identify and contact their next of kin.

More than 2,500 grassroots volunteers, students, residents and merchants have also been engaged through talks and workshops to help them better understand ageing and dementia.

Awwa will also be starting a centre in Woodlands in the first half of next year to support its community mental health efforts and will be creating a caregiver support network.

Yesterday, a children's storybook about dementia, written by university adjunct lecturer Serena Lim, was launched.

Titled Remembering For The Two Of Us, it charts the journey of a young child coming to terms with changes in her grandmother who has dementia.

The storybook is available in public libraries and will be online at http://dementiafriendly.sg