Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Last weekend I attended the National Caregivers Seminar organized by the Alzheimer's Disease Foundation of Malaysia (ADFM). It was time well spent as I learned much and met with caregivers from Johor, Malacca, Penang and Ipoh. As any caregiver will tell you, knowing there are others who are facing the same challenges gives you the vital support to get through each day of care-giving.

For the record, here is a list of the doctors who spoke and their presentations:

  • Dr Lee Fatt Soon (General Hospital, KL) - "Managing Medical Conditions in Dementia"
  • Dr Donald Yeo Hong Huang (General Hospital, Singapore) - "Person-Centred Dementia Care - The Singapore Experience"
  • Dr Ho Bee Kiau (Health Clinic, Klang) - "Mentally Stimulating Activities Can Delay Dementia"
  • Dr Gemma KC Law Wong (Hongkong University, HK) - "Caring for Someone with Dementia in Home Environment"
  • Dr Lu-Ann Chong (UMMC, PJ) - "Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease - Healthy Brain Initiatives"
  • Dr Bharathi Vengadasalam (UPM, Serdang) - "Ain't Misbehaving: Understanding and Managing Difficult Behaviours"
  • Dr Tan Maw Pin (Universiti Malaya) - "Fall Risk Assessment on people with Dementia and Effective Preventive Measures"
  • Dr Esther Ebenezer (Royal College of Medicine, Ipoh) - "Caring for Someone with AD"
  • Mr Thillainathan Krishnan (Hospital Selayang, KL) - "Assisted Daily Living for Person with Dementia"
From left: Dr Gemma, Dr Lee and Dr Esther

Day 1 began on Friday evening with an interactive caregivers' dialogue with Dr Gemma and Dr Esther. Caregivers shared their experiences looking after their elderly loved ones, and nurse managers of care centres also shared creative ideas on how to handle difficult situations with AD clients.

Everyone who spoke had the same advice to share with caregivers:
  • Look after yourself. A stressed out caregiver is of little help to the person with AD
  • Take a break when you feel overwhelmed, and don't feel guilty about it.
  • Adopt a positive attitude and learn to accept little acts of 'misbehaviour'. 
  • Know you are not alone. Join an AD caregivers support group.
Strong support from caregivers, members of the medical and nursing fraternity as well as the public.

Some of the caregivers brought along their elderly parents. It was touching to see the loving care and patience shown by these caregivers. These acts of filial piety auger well for the future. Our children learn from us. They follow by example. How we treat our parents is an indication of how our children will treat us in our old age. 
Herbert Chong (right) shares the role of caregiver with his brother Chee Wah. Their father, Chong Kim Swee (left), 85, stays two weeks in rotation with each son. Shared responsibility helps to reduce the stress of care-giving.
Tan Suat Eng (right) with her mother Ng Siew Poh, 83. Mdm Ng lives with her youngest son on the first floor of a condo. Suat Eng is on the third floor so she gets to spend time with her mom daily. A very practical arrangement!
Caring for a parent with AD requires the cooperation  and support of the whole family. Care-giving is not only a drain on your financial resources but also on your energy. So when the whole family shares in looking after mom or dad, everyone benefits.

Here is a selection of slides that might be of interest to our viewers.

Scary figures. Knowledge precedes action. Governments need to intervene and be prepared for the dementia tsunami as the population ages. (Above slides from Dr  Lu-Ann Chong's presentation)
People with dementia have the same wish list as any of us. Why should we treat them differently? (Above slide from Dr Donald Yeo's presentation.)

Dr Bharathi's slides below highlight some of symptoms we should look out for, and offer practical advice on how to care for those with dementia.

All of us experience forgetfulness on a daily basis. Is this part of the ageing process? No, it isn't. It is only when forgetfulness affects our activities of daily living (ADL) that we should be concerned.

Occupational therapist Mr Thillainathan Krishnan explains ADL. Are our elderly parents able to perform all these activities independently?
Dr Tan points out that falls increase dependency on the caregiver, especially in using the stairs, toilets and showers.

Here is a list of registered Dementia daycare and residential care centres in Malaysia:

Nurse managers: (left) Jade Wong who manages the ADFM daycare centre in PJ, and (right) Angela Lee who runs the Dementia Homecare Centre in Telok Panglima Garang, Klang. Both have degrees in Nursing.

Dementia Care Centres:

Rumah Alzheimer's
6, Lorong 11/8E, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: 603-7956 2008 / 7958 3008

KL Daycare Centre
9A, Lorong Bukit Raja,
Taman Seputeh, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-2260 3158

Dementia Homecare Centre
PT 715, Jalan Pandan 26,
Telok Panglima Garang, Selangor
Tel: 603-3122 6908 

ACE Daycare Centre
115-1, Jalan Mayang 3
Taman Peringgit Jaya, Malacca
Tel: 606-284 7886

JOBADA Activity Centre
43, Jalan Petri, Kampung Tarom, Johor Bahru
Tel: 607 - 222 4016

Dementia Daycare Centre
15, Jalan Foo Choong Nyit, Ipoh
Tel: 605-241 1691 or 019-571 2738 (April Loh)

ADFM Head Office
6, Lorong 11/8E, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: 603-7956 2008 / 7958 3008
Fax: 603-7960 8482

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