Close to 70% of the 470 Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) students surveyed were uncomfortable with interacting with people with dementia (PWD).
Approximately 66% of respondents scored below 5 on the scale of zero to 10 when asked to rank their knowledge about dementia. 68% of respondents were willing to help a PWD in need, but were hesitant in taking the initiative to approach them first.
The survey was conducted by three final-year students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information of Nanyang Technological University, as part of a dementia-awareness campaign called ‘Friends of Dementia’. Readers can also follow their Instagram account for updates. The campaign is done in partnership with Forget Us Not, a joint initiative by Lien Foundation and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
IHL students were identified as the target audience for the campaign as youths are a key driving force in today’s society. With youths being the next generation to support the society, they have been identified by experts to play an important role in caring for PWD. As such, the survey executed from September to December 2016 aimed to find out IHL students’ current attitude, knowledge and behaviour towards PWD.
Dementia is a serious concern in Singapore, costing approximately $1.4 billion yearly. One in 10 elderly aged 60 and above, and one in two aged 85 and above will have dementia. In addition, caregivers experience immense stress that compromises their psychological well-being. The impact of dementia on Singapore is expected to worsen in view of a rapidly ageing population, which indirectly leads to an exponential rise in PWD.
“We believe that it is important for IHL students to understand, empathise and know how to help PWD as dementia is becoming increasingly prevalent and youths need to be prepared for it. Becoming a friend of dementia means understanding the illness and knowing how to help a PWD when in need,” said Ivan Loh, Campaign Administrator of Forget Us Not.
Forget Us Not is one of the key initiatives in Singapore that focuses on helping to create a dementia-friendly community in Singapore.Through this initiative, over 10,000 individuals across Singapore have been trained to be dementia-friendly. However, more needs to be done to help keep up with the growing impact of dementia. Thus, this presents an opportunity for efforts to empower youth to be more proactive towards
PWD, to further strengthen the community support structure for PWD and their caregivers.
Coupled with the rapidly ageing population of Singapore and the accelerating rates of diagnosed young-onset dementia, it is definitely time for us to learn more about dementia and prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead. One is never too young to learn about dementia.
Friends of Dementia aims to stand out from other dementia-related campaigns by adopting a positive, lively and light-hearted tone to educate youths about dementia.
Below is a video of six students from various local universities who sat down in front of the camera and played games which simulated symptoms of dementia. By doing so, the team hoped to demonstrate the importance of dementia to youths.