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Dementia in Singapore

The elderly in Singapore are more prevalent than ever before. As life spans have lengthened in recent decades, and medical technology has improved, more and more people are simply living longer. While this is an excellent sign for the quality of life in Singapore, as well as testament to the city-state’s standard of living, it has not come without side effects. Obviously, as there are more and more elderly people in Singapore, the issues that are specific to their community will have a larger and larger impact. Perhaps chief among these issues are those of a medical nature. The diseases and ailments prominent among senior citizens will inevitably take a toll on Singapore’s medical facilities, and this effect is already being seen. Dementia in Singapore is one such medical condition that is growing exponentially. Here, Pacific Prime Singapore provides an overview of the disease and how it is affecting the city. We also provide information on how to find help for loved ones that develop dementia.


What is dementia?

Dementia is a neurological syndrome that is characterized by the progressive deterioration of memory, behavior, and cognitive function. Eventually the disorder results in not only the inability to properly understand their surroundings, but also the inability to care for one’s self.

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There are two prominent types of dementia. The first among these is Alzheimer’s disease, which is a gradually progressive form of dementia that has no known cause or cure, although it has been linked to deficiencies in certain brain chemicals. The second type is Multi-infarct dementia (also known as vascular dementia), which is caused by having multiple strokes.

The first stage of dementia, or mild dementia, is categorized by momentary, yet increasingly regular, lapses of memory.  Additionally, uncharacteristic personality or mood changes mark this stage of dementia. Here a sufferer may become withdrawn or seem despondent, and planning activities ahead of time will become difficult for them.

The second stage of dementia, known as moderate dementia, will see a patient begin to have major issues with their memory. In this stage, sufferers will begin to become upset as a result of memory loss and disorientation. Also, they will begin to display erratic behavior such as forgetting the names of people or objects, becoming lost, losing track of the time or their surroundings, repeating themselves, or not properly maintaining their personal hygiene.

The final stage of dementia, severe dementia, will see the sufferer having even greater issues with their memory. They may not recognize anyone, even family members, and will likely need constant or vary regular supervision to assist with everyday activities like eating, bathing and getting dressed. Additionally, their judgment may be serious impaired and their speech may be affected to the point that they are incomprehensible.


Singapore dementia info

Dementia has proven to become quite costly to Singapore, as it costs the city SG $1.4 billion a year. In fact, one in ten people between 60 and 74 years of age has dementia here. The Alzheimer’s Disease Association also reports that 6.2% of people over the age of 65 in Singapore have dementia. On a more focused basis, in 2013 every person with dementia paid SG $10,245 more in health and social care costs than those without. Furthermore, if you count other conditions associated with dementia, such as high blood pressure and depression, the annual cost per dementia patient rises dramatically to an average of SG $27,331.

Looking to the future, the hope of recent studies, such as those that provided that figures above, is that they will call attention to the issue of dementia in Singapore to lawmakers and more easily enable them to allocate resources for it. After all, the ‘Silver Tsunami’ effect of an aging population is going to greatly exacerbate the dementia issue in coming years. While there were 22,000 dementia patients over 65 in Singapore in 2005 and 40,000 in 2015, this number is expected to increase to 53,000 by 2020 and 187,000 by 2050.

Currently, 75% of the money spent on dementia care in Singapore is actually money lost by caregivers as they take time off of work to take care of dementia sufferers. Only the remaining 25% is related to healthcare and treatment costs. This points to a dearth of available professional caretaker services, whether due to lack of funds to pay for them, lack of government support for such services, or simply not enough of such workers in Singapore to properly meet the demand created by dementia sufferers. Thus, some in Singapore are asking the government to look at not just providing subsidies for dementia patients at hospitals and clinics, but also recognizing the need for home care and transportation services.


Where can help be found?

Initial testing for dementia will involve a doctor assessing and diagnosing the patient, which is, of course, a common practice. Once a person has been diagnosed and symptoms begin to worsen, be sure to create a daily routine that includes exercises for both body and mind to keep them as healthy as possible. Creating a calm, quiet, and familiar environment for them is likely to be beneficial as well.

For more specific dementia treatment, there is help available in Singapore. For example, the Institute of Mental Health has a Memory Clinic, Psychogeriatric Clinics and a Dementia Friendly Ward that have each been in operation since 2013. Likewise, Changi General Hospital has specialized facilities that can assist dementia patients, including their Geriatric Medical Centre and Memory Clinics.

After the proper testing and diagnosis at these facilities, dementia patients can be prescribed helpful medication or received specialized in-patient care. Of course, for those without access to Singapore’s subsidized public healthcare, such as many expats in Singapore, the cost of this kind of care at private facilities can be quite costly. This is where it would be extremely beneficial to have a private medical insurance plan that provides benefits for treatment related to dementia and other neurological disorders.

For more information on plans with these types of benefits, contact the experts at Pacific Prime Singapore today. As an insurance brokerage in Singapore, Pacific Prime can compare plans and premiums from a number of insurers to find the health insurance policy that is the best fit for your needs. Contact Pacific Prime Singapore today.

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Content Strategist at Pacific Prime Singapore
Jessica Lindeman is a Content Strategist at Pacific Prime. She comes to work every day living and breathing the motto of "simplifying insurance", and injects her unbridled enthusiasm for health and insurance related topics into every article and piece of content she creates for Pacific Prime.

When she's not typing away on her keyboard, she's reading poetry, fueling her insatiable wanderlust, getting her coffee fix, and perpetually browsing animal Instagram accounts.