Learning Journey to ADA

On 21 December, the SI Wing headed to the Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) New Horizon Centre in Toa Payoh to engage with people with dementia. ADA is a voluntary welfare organisation that seeks to reduce stigma by increasing awareness and understanding of dementia, and works with the community towards a dementia-friendly society. It also provides daycare for people with dementia, the New Horizon Centre being one of them, as well as a wide range of services such as counselling and support groups. We wanted to volunteer for one daycare session to better understand and empathise with the persons with dementia, the prime focus for our project this year. 
It was an eye opening and fulfilling session for all of us. This session gave us an opportunity to interact with the elderly through games and activities. We did our best to engage them and it was heartwarming to see some of them opening up to us and sharing their life experiences. Personally, seeing them colouring Christmas trees with much fervour and skill left me in awe because I realised how talented they can be despite their condition. I feel that it is easy for us to label people and limit them to their condition but this session made me realise that I need to focus on their ability instead of their disability especially so in the case of formulating the user journey map and coming up with solutions to help this group of people.

However, we also met with a fewchallenges along the way. One pertinent challenge that we all faced was the language barrier. Few of us were fluent in Chinese or dialects which made communication with them difficult. In order to communicate effectively with the rapidly ageing population, there is a need to learn simple dialect and practice our Chinese so that we are able to assist these elderly with dementia.

Overall, this experience enabled us to understand the struggles that these elderly with dementia faced and how we can better support them. With this valuable experience gained, we are onto the next phase of our project! To build a dementia community neighbourhood through educating shop owners on dementia and how to help these elderly with dementia.