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The importance of Healthy Ageing Plans in Alzheimer’s care

by | Jun 14, 2024 | Caregivers Journey, Caregiving, Community, Dementia

Since the launch of the first Action Plan for Successful Ageing in 2015, it is heartening to see that steps in the right direction have been made to ensure that seniors can take care of their physical and mental well-being, stay connected with loved ones and also continuously learn.

Fast forward a few years later, the 2023 Action Plan for Successful Ageing lays out how the right policies and support system can further enhance the well-being of seniors. This shows that addressing Alzheimers is a public health priority and The Ministry of Health is enhancing care and support for persons living with dementia, as well as their caregivers.

Zooming in on Alzheimers, an estimated one in 10 persons aged 60 and above has some form of dementia. The focus of the 2023 Healthy Ageing plan is to build a dementia-inclusive Singapore and support persons living with dementia to lead purposeful and dignified lives.

Through the 5 pillars, we break down how the healthy ageing plan is relevant in Alzheimer’s care and its relevance to you. 

 

Pillar 1: Prevention and awareness

A heightened awareness of dementia helps the community as a whole in coming together to better support patients with dementia whilst reducing the stigma around the condition. 

Healthy ageing plans
  • Community exercise programmes like Healthy Ageing Promotion Programme For You (HAPPY), will be scaled up nationwide to support seniors’ physical and cognitive health
  • HealthHub and DementiaHub.SG provide resources to educate the public on common risk factors and signs of dementia.
  • Science Centre Singapore will curate programmes and a new interactive exhibition that simulates the sensory experiences and challenges faced by persons living with dementia in their daily lives.

 

Pillar 2: Early identification and diagnosis

Early identification and diagnosis aids those with the disease to achieve better quality care by identifying cognitive impairments early and also allows caregivers time to adjust to the changes in function, mood and personality that can occur with Alzheimer’s dementia.

Healthy ageing plans
  • 16 memory clinics in polyclinics are currently in place to provide dementia assessment and management within the community. 
  • Community outreach teams (CREST) proactively identify seniors at-risk of dementia and refer them for assessment and interventions. There are currently 61 CREST teams dedicated to support seniors and persons with dementia. This will increase to 73 by March 2025.

 

Pillar 3: Empowering persons living with dementia to age well in the community and support their caregivers

The focus on well-being of caregivers is encouraging to see – in that there is more recognition that caregiving is not an easy task and caregivers often struggle. Counselling and support services from the community helps to better ease this load.

Healthy ageing plans
  • To provide custodial care and cognitive stimulating activities for persons living with dementia, the number of dementia day care places will be more than tripled from 1,000 in 2015 to 4,400 in 2022. 
  • 24 Community Intervention Teams (COMIT) islandwide provide counselling and education to support persons living with dementia and caregivers to live well in the community.
  • The Post-Diagnostic Support (PDS) service proactively engages caregivers upon diagnosis and connects them with support services. We will triple the CREST-PDS teams to six by March 2025.
  • Various respite care options, including night respite care, are available to support caregivers while assuring them that their loved ones are receiving care in a safe environment.

 

Pillar 4: Innovative care models
  • Through the National Innovation Challenge on Active and Confident Ageing, there will be funding to enhance research on dementia, catalyse new innovations and scale up solutions that have shown good outcomes in delaying or managing dementia.

 

Pillar 5: Capability building

Capability building in terms of training and supporting community care providers would better help bolster the support network for patients with Alzheimers and their caregivers.

  • The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will roll out the Dementia Care Competency Framework to guide training for community care partners, so that persons living with dementia can receive appropriate care.
  • The National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth have created six Shared Care Teams to provide dementia training and support for community care providers.
  • Lead Training Providers are set up by AIC to provide training to community care organisations.

 

Conclusion

This multi-pronged approach for Alzheimer’s care provides reassurance to patients with Alzheimers and their caregivers that support is readily available. Especially with the increased focus on the caregiver in recent years, it is more encouraging to know that support is available when you reach out. 

About Growing Needs

About Growing Needs

Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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