Dementia patients face many, many challenges in their every day lives, and here I will be talking more specifically about the dementia patients in Yong En, the daycare centre which we help out at.
At Yong En, the ages of the patients range from 50 to 80, and the caregivers there are all trained to properly take care of the elderly. Many of the patients there arrive at 8 in the morning, and stay there until 4:30 in the afternoon. We went there to accompany them, and to find out more about the dementia community.
I talked to Mdm Teo, a 60 year old patient who was been with the daycare centre for four years already. Through her, I learnt that most of the elderly there had difficulties doing many basic activities, such as walking and cleaning. Having lost those skills, they needed to be assisted around-the-clock, causing them to lose confidence and independence.
With this in mind, my team and I decided to focus on creating something that would allow the elderly to be more independent, in turn boosting their confidence. Despite being elderly, they, just like us, need ample self confidence and pride. By allowing them to be more independent, they would not feel as useless as they do now, and that would impact their pride and confidence greatly.
So what exactly should we work on?
Initially, we were all looking at each of the four aspects (Entertainment, Mobility, Environment, Health) separately, aiming to help fulfil only one aspect, while addressing their need at the same time. However, as we went along, we discovered that all of them were tightly bound, and it was impossible to think along one topic without the others coming into play. For example, we were thinking along the lines of mobility, and were planning to improve wheelchairs. We thought of adding levers and handles to allow the elderly to properly manoeuvre the wheelchair, instead of directly turning the wheels. With the elderly moving the handles frequently, we realised it would also serve as a form of exercise for them, hence tying in with health.
That realisation allowed us to think more broadly, and allowed us to come up with many more ideas. We have since narrowed it down to aroma therapy kits (entertainment, environment and health) and elderly-friendly wheelchairs (mobility and health). Both would allow the elderly to have hands-on experience, and would then boost their confidence, allowing us to achieve our desired outcome of addressing their need.