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Two sets of breakfast? Something amiss

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The Straits Times

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Madam Tan performing a cognitive activity at The Care Library facilitated by a centre employee.

 

When memories leave a person, who else can safe keep them? For Madam Tan, 64, her diagnosis of early dementia two years ago meant her son has become the custodian of some of her memories.

 

"I forget and he tells me. I didn't know I had forgotten," she says of his childhood memories of going to Chinatown, for instance.

 

The retired factory worker, who does not want to be identified, has lived with her younger son, Mr Soon, 39, and his family for about 10 years.

 

Mr Soon, an executive in the finance industry, employs a domestic helper, butMadam Tan, who is widowed, also helps care for his twosons, aged seven and four.

 

When his household ended up with two sets of breakfast one day, he realised that Madam Tan had bought a meal, even though she had been told there was one.

 

Her uncharacteristic forgetfulness prompted him to get her diagnosed.

 

More people will get dementia in greying Singapore and, some, such as MadamTan, will probably have to rely on their loved ones to notice that their memory loss is not a sign of old age.

 

Associate Professor Nagaendran Kandiah, senior consultant at National Neuroscience Institute's Department of Neurology, says: "Memory loss related to normal ageing is isolated, not persistent and often for trivial matters.

 

"For example, in normal ageing,'an elderly person may forget the name of someone they see infrequently.

 

However, an elderly person with dementia will likely forget even the names of people they knowwell and meet regularly."

 

In a speech marking World Alzheimer's Day last month, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said that with one in 10 people aged 60 and older estimated to have dementia, the number of seniors with the disease is set to rise as Singapore's population ages.

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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