As I was on the cab to a meeting, I saw an old chinese auntie (probably in her late 70s) standing by the zebra crossing at the road into my office. White-haired and petite, she held in her left hand a big green umbrella, kept close as the weather was tolerable. She wore one of those dull coloured flowery batik-styled clothing, a similar fashion taste to most of my grandmother’s generation. As my cab drew closer I saw that she wore a worried look, pacing only a step back and forth, looking towards the oncoming bystander for ?directions. To my dismay, as she went forth to ask the first passer-by, a young man probably in his twenties, ?something, he walked on without even turning to pay her any heed. The next passer-by, a long-haired office lady in her thirties did the exact same thing, ignoring this poor auntie without even a second glance.
My regret is from INACTION, not stepping out of the cab to truly understand what her situation was, and having all these thoughts twelve hours after the incident, praying that she is fine and safely home. I strongly feel that the regret from inaction is greater than that of taking Action. When I shared this with a close friend of mine, he pointed out that the situation may not have been how I perceived it to be from that one minute “window”. Perhaps she was a “regular” there with some form of psychiatric issues, to the point where people would ignore her as they pass by due to her ridiculous requests. If she was truly lost and in need of help, what does this make those of us who did nothing? She could be anyone’s loved one, yours even. And if she was disorientated and wandering around, feeling stress, helpless, confused and placing herself in harm’s way while her loved ones are unaware or frantically in search of her. As our parents and grandparents enter the seniors club and age, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, mild cognitive impairment rises as well. Soon we will be ‘thrown’ into unfamiliar and stressful roles as caregivers, completely uneducated on the disease and unequipped with relevant caregiving knowledge. However in this fast-paced society, a group of us tend to only look around and educate ourselves when the issue affects us. By then it would have been a stressful ‘transition’ for your family.
For more information on related resources on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, you can visit our local Alzheimer’s Disease Association’s page at http://www.alz.org.sg/
What I saw today made me recall a short video I came across years ago on YouTube, it was done by a group of Singapore Polytechnic students as part of a competition entry for Dementia awareness. It has been by far the most memorable video on dementia that I have seen and can relate to. Perhaps we can take this time to reflect, and open our eyes and patience to the seniors close to our hearts. It may get tiring, frustrating to deal with them but it is not their fault, they did not ask to lose their memories. They did not ask to lose aspects of their functionality and logical thinking.