Dementia will be a growing problem as the population ages, but resources for dementia care in the community will be hard to build up due to manpower shortages.
The Dementia Prevention Programme (DPP) is a health service that aims to have a positive effect on mental health and quality of life of the elderly, and a longer term goal of keeping dementia at bay.
Collaborating with People's Association (PA), this programme is currently ongoing at three community centres: Queenstown, Eunos & Tampines Changkat. And consists of activities such as: health education, mindfulness, music reminiscence, gardening and meridian flapping. These activities were chosen based on evidence that they could prevent dementia.
Seniors are given tips on how to stay healthy. For example, they are taught how to keep chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension in check, and are encouraged not to miss their health check-ups.
Meridian flapping exercise
They use special tools to hit different acupuncture points on their bodies to improve blood circulation.
They pick their favourite song and photos. They are then asked to share the memory behind both of their choices.
They are made more aware of their surroundings, thoughts and bodily sensations. For instance, they are asked to scrutinise the texture of the raisin between their fingers before they eat it.
They are taught how to grow vegetables like chye sim (chinese cabbage) by learning how to plant the seeds and how to water the plants, for instance. The vegetables are harvested at the end of 12 weeks.
From the success of Jurong Ageing Study and various other research studies, our idea is to push these activities out into the public, as a health service. By getting the elderly folks out and about, there will be stronger communal support for all participants.
Our preliminary results looks promising and we are looking forward to roll out the programme to more housing estates.