When a person is diagnosed with dementia, the diagnosis often “labels” the person. This results in social exclusion and marginalisation of the person and his/her family.
Going to the library is a positive and well established norm in Singapore. It is a familiar activity for the young and old.
The CARE Library captures the familiar warm and conducive setting of a library. It provides a comprehensive range of activities and resources for engagement. Other activities include browsing of a wide range of appropriate literature, reading aloud, storytelling, engaging music dynamics and other stimulating activities. Trained staff are available to promote positive engagement. We are a vibrant and caring environment without stigma.
Like with a library, take-home activities and resources are available. These are made available to sustain participants’ interests and engagement.
Why is an enterprise such as ‘The CARE Library’ significantly relevant for Singapore?
Singapore is witnessing a most profound age shift between now and 2030. By 2030, one in five people in Singapore will be over 65 as compared to about 1 in 12 now (Singapore Department of Statistics).
The Well-being of the Singapore Elderly (WiSE) study conducted in 2013 spearheaded by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), established that the prevalence of dementia is closely linked to the age of the population. This nationwide epidemiological study established that the prevalence of dementia was 10% in the elderly population i.e. those aged 60 years and above in Singapore (IMH Media Release, 25 March 2015). At The Care Library, we are actually seeing this age threshold lowered.
More social enterprises are needed to support the care of seniors so that they can lead more fulfilling and purposeful lives. The focus is on what seniors can still do despite age, illness or frailty. According to Mr Laurence Lien, more experimentation and innovation can be availed for this purpose (The Straits Times, November 22, 2014). The Care Library employs a range of strategies to the care, in a positive and vibrant atmosphere.
The cost of a comprehensive private service may be a deterrent for low-income families. The high-income earners may want services that are more private and individualised. Mr Gerard Ee in an interview with ‘My Paper’ suggested that there is a need for service providers to engage all who need the service, regardless of income level (Tessa Wong, March 31, 2014). We are not corporate or government funded, and a not-for-profit enterprise. However, our charges are pitched very similar to charges of funded organisations despite the significant Music content in our program. In the marketplace, Music programs understandably have always carried higher rates.
Some persons with cognitive impairment / dementia (PCI/D) refuse any day care services due to perceived social stigma or have fear of big group settings. A homely disarming library, such as that at The Care Library provides a conducive environment.
Family caregivers who employ domestic helpers and nurses to care for their loved ones may find it supportive to enrol in 3 hourly programs like ours.
Elderly with cognitive impairment and other disabilities may find it difficult to initiate and plan meaningful activities for themselves. Caregivers may not have the skills and knowledge to initiate activities creatively. We are placed to render the support needed for these situations.
What are the scientific supports for ‘Fireworks’ or ‘Ignite’? Are these activities evidence-based?
Importance of exercises, cognitive stimulation and social interaction:
Managing persons with cognitive impairment or dementia is multi-faceted and requires a comprehensive multi-prong deployment of pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches. According to an escalating amount of research literature, exercise and cognitive rehabilitation have positive effects on cognitive functions. Therefore, persons with dementia are widely encouraged to engage in exercises, cognitive stimulation and social interaction.
According to Dr Philip Yap of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, such activities “meet the human need for engagement and having a sense of purpose, meaning and pleasure in life” thus “reducing the feelings of loss and helplessness that often accompany dementia” (The Straits Times, Mind Your Body, Feb 2013).
Importance of music:
Musical aptitude and music appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in persons with Alzheimer’s Disease (Simmons-Stern, Budson & Ally, 2011). A recent study by a well-known musician found positive cognitive changes in healthy elderly and persons with dementia (Maguire, 2013). Researchers believe that music is an intervention with proven effects, low cost, easy to administer and has little harmful effects. Music could shift moods, manage stress and stimulate positive interactions if the preferred genre of music is chosen (Nair, Browne, Marley & Heim, 2013). Dr Philip Yap said “Music provides a mind over body experience that can transcend physical ills and enhances one’s sense of well-being.” (The Straits Times, Mind Your Body, Feb 2013).
The Fireworks Program at The Care Library seeks to promote these various aspects in a warm socially engaging yet homely environment.