Tag Archive - dementia

Recognising dementia symptoms & raising awareness

Last month (October 10) was World Mental Health Day. In Singapore, the first National Mental Health Week to raise awareness of mental illness and to reduce the stigma around it began in 1987.

Mental disorders can be a complex combination of both genetic and environmental or lifestyle factors. Early diagnosis and access to treatment are critical to managing the disorders. In terms of our awareness of mental illness, a recent survey showed that at least five in 10 people were able to identify the symptoms of dementia (66.3 percent), alcohol abuse (57.1 percent) and depression (55.2 percent).

The Mental Health Literacy study conducted between March 2014 and March 2015 by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) asked people about their perceptions of five common mental disorders. Besides the illnesses mentioned above, fewer people were able to identify symptoms associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (28.7 percent) and schizophrenia (11.5 percent).

While it is reassuring to know that two out of three of the 3,006 adults who participated in the IMH study were able to identify dementia occurrence, the recognition of symptoms does not necessarily imply that people understand the sickness.

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A better environment for those with dementia

Prof Richard Fleming.

During the Alzheimer’s 25th anniversary symposium titled “Towards a dementia-friendly Singapore”, Prof Richard Fleming, who is part of the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health at Australia’s University of Wollongong and director of the NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centre, shared the 10 design principles to creating a better environment for people with dementia:

1. Unobtrusively reduce risks – People with dementia require an internal and external environment that is safe, secure and easy to move around if they are to make the best of their remaining abilities. However, obvious safety features and barriers will lead to frustration, agitation and anger, and so potential risks need to be reduced unobtrusively. “The magic word is unobtrusive,” said Prof Fleming.

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Arts unlock those with dementia

A photo taken by one of ADA's clients in the photography part of the Arts & Dementia Programme.

There is much evidence that the arts help to stimulate those with dementia. Dr Donald Yeo, a clinical neuropsychologist at KALL Psychological & Counselling Services with a special interest in the psychological aspects of ageing and dementia, spoke about one such project called the Arts & Dementia Programme by the Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) at the RehabTech Asia conference in March. He is also a volunteer at ADA.

Ageless Voice finds out more:

So how does arts work with those who have dementia?

With dementia, the thinking part of brain deteriorates and this affects language skills. One is not able to communicate verbally, however, arts get around this in a non-verbal manner by activating the brain’s emotional part and bypassing the limitations.

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