How family focused on caring for grandmother with dementia
Public relations consultant speaks of caring for grandmother with dementia
In 2013, Mr Jeffrey Wong wanted to have his grandmother's curry chicken before he left for his final year of studies at New York's University of Buffalo.
But it was not what he expected - the curry was not spicy, the coconut taste was off and the chicken was under-cooked.
The public relations consultant, 27, told The New Paper: "It was bad but I did not care."
Looking back, Mr Wong realised that his grandmother, now 82, was showing signs of dementia, which she was diagnosed with that same year.
Mr Wong's family enrolled her in the Alzheimer's Disease Association's dementia day care centre in Toa Payoh, which she attends twice a week while the family is at work, doing activities such as doll-making to keep her mind stimulated.
His mother and their maid attended the association's caregiver training courses so they can better look after his grandmother.
But Mr Wong's grandfather's death in August 2013 "hit (Mr Wong's grandmother) hard".
While in New York, Mr Wong could only console his grandmother over Skype three to four times a week.
Over time, he noticed that the conversations were getting shorter and simpler, and she started to forget his name.
"It was sad because I was not here, and I wondered if it would make a difference if I was," he said.
By the time Mr Wong returned in September 2014, his grandmother had forgotten his name and started displaying child-like behaviour.
A year later, his grandmother suffered her first stroke, which affected her language abilities.
It was when Mr Wong saw how helpless she was after she soiled her diapers that he realised he has to help care for his grandmother.
Now, everything his family does centres around her. They changed the family car to one with a bigger door to accommodate her and visits places with wheelchair-friendly facilities.
Their extended families also plan a gathering on the first Sunday of every month to keep her company.
Mr Wong spoke about his care-giving experience at dementia awareness event Walk With Me: Our Journey of Remembering held in Nee Soon South constituency on Nov 12.
The event was part of Nee Soon South's efforts to make the constituency a dementia-friendly place to live and age in as part of the Dementia-Friendly Singapore initiative.
It is Grandparents' Day tomorrow, but Mr Wong's family has no special plans.
Mr Wong said: "She matters to us, so every day is her day."