SINGAPORE - Media OutReach - 21 October 2021 - Enable Asia, a local social enterprise focused on advocacy for persons living with dementia and their caregivers, kicks off its fourth instalment of the Enabling Festival today. Supported by The Majurity Trust and Agency for Integrated Care, the annual event focuses on building awareness and facilitating discussions around dementia, as well as provides a channel of support and enablement for persons living with dementia and their caregivers.
Ms Rahayu Mahzam, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Health with her mother, Mdm Kasmawati preparing mee siam for the Master Cook Series, a campaign to inspire persons living with dementia and their caregivers to connect through shared memories involving their favourite foods, in support of the Enabling Festival 2021.
Perceiving dementia in new ways, online
This year's festival hones in on showcasing the experiences of persons living with dementia and caregivers to foster greater awareness around how persons living with dementia and their caregivers perceive dementia and navigate the world around them. The theme for this year is on Taste. Taste is a powerful sensory experience that triggers a rush of memories from long ago, or even seemingly forgotten. Food memory is a powerful time machine that can teleport a person to another time and place. It can also unearth deep-rooted memories of a person loved and treasured in the past. These memories are often strong because they utilise each of the senses. Most people have probably experienced a deep memory just by smelling something such as clean laundry, air after the rain or frying of belachan in the kitchen. When the senses of taste, smell, sight, sound and touch are combined while eating, the memory is made more vivid.
The two-week long festival will run from 22 October to 4 November 2021. Given the current pandemic, the festival programme (see Annex) will be held online to reach the wider community, amid safety measures in Singapore. Enabling Festival Artistic Director, Jeremiah Choy, said, "I am most delighted to reprise my role for the fourth time and see the festival grow from strength to strength. It has been a very challenging year, and because we are going fully virtual, we have to grapple with more online technical and technological issues. Thankfully, everyone is full hands-on deck and we are happy to roll out a festival that is informative, engaging and fun."
Caring for persons living with dementia and their caregivers in a digital post-COVID future
As dementia becomes a growing concern among the ageing population in Singapore, the Enabling Festival also serves as a digital platform to engage persons living with dementia and their caregivers, and offer insightful recommendations on how they can guide their rehabilitation and self-care routines in the digital age. As more individuals are taking steps to adopt technology and go digital, Enable Asia aims to find innovative ways to enable and empower persons living with dementia and caregivers with information and online events. These initiatives will keep vulnerable groups connected to sources of care services and support in the community, to co-create a more dementia-friendly and socially inclusive society as Singapore progresses.
Ms Rahayu Mahzam, Advisor of Bukit Batok East constituency, also Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Health, will grace the Launch of the Enabling Festival as Guest-of-Honour this year. "We are indeed seeing more residents living with dementia in the community. In Bukit Batok East, our volunteers together with the social service agencies, community partners and the Agency for Integrated Care are looking into how to better support our residents living with dementia and their caregivers. We have set up Dementia Go-To Points, Caregiver Support Network and activities to engage persons living with dementia to co-create a safe and inclusive Dementia-Friendly Community in Bukit Batok East. Beyond our localised community, I am very glad that others such as Enable Asia are also doing their part to engage persons living with dementia. The Enabling Festival has a wide variety of programmes and I look forward to participating in the Master Cook Video Series to share my personal food memory," shared Ms Rahayu Mahzam.
"As sole primary caregivers to our parents with dementia, we, together with a very small group of fellow caregivers, are keenly aware of the support that caregivers need in order to continue to provide care for their loved ones sustainably. More needs to be done to understand and address this often-silent group in the community, whose responsibilities have weighed more heavily especially during the pandemic period," said Daniel Lim and Danny Raven Tan, Co-founders, Enable Asia. "We are honoured to have sponsors and partners in this journey to influence social policy and improve the quality of life for both persons of dementia and their respective caregivers, and even strengthen their place in the social fabric of a close-knit community."
Register for Enabling Festival 2021: https://enablingfestival2021.eventbrite.sg
Access the Enabling Festival 2021 programme brochure in PDF here: https://bit.ly/3AOspP7
ANNEX – ENABLING FESTIVAL PROGRAMME
Food Memory Project - The Launch of a Master Cook Video Series
This is a video series that aims to catalogue unique shared experiences through personal cooking sessions. In line with Singaporean culture which has unique stories of local food, the series also looks into possibilities of cognitive rehabilitation by re-enacting fond memories and re-kindling deep connections between caregivers and persons living with dementia, keeping their memories alive in videos.
Art-Based Activity - The Launch and Sale of a Colouring Book "Colour Our Memories"
Studies have shown that performing art-related activities with caregivers, including colouring, has positive benefits to dementia-related behaviour. Colouring as a recreational activity helps to ease agitation or aggression in persons living with dementia as it is therapeutic and calming. The colouring book aims to provide an avenue for caregiver and persons living with dementia to connect meaningfully through a shared and relaxing activity, as they relive nostalgic memories together by colouring in the illustrations of their favourite local dishes.
Science Behind the Impact of Taste and Food Memory on Dementia
Clinicians and nutritionists will discuss gut health and share insights on the impact of taste and food memory on dementia and discuss how caregivers and persons living with dementia can seek respite from the debilitating situation.
Tackling Early Onset of Dementia
As The Enabling Festival 2021 is set to launch, the festival recounts the bravery and resilience behind the human stories that continue to make this festival possible. Ms Emily Ong is a strong advocate for education on Young Onset of Dementia (YOD). Her dementia journey began with the French toast incident, where she completely forgot the ingredients to prepare her children's favourite dish. She believes advocacy is about using one's lived experience and story to call for a social change and to improve the quality of life for persons living with dementia. She personally videoed a dish on the Master Cook series.
Connecting to seniors and caregivers in their own language
To further expand the reach of the Enabling Festival and engage with senior persons living with dementia directly in their own dialects, programmes have been curated in Hokkien and Cantonese, as well as Malay.