Angeline Teo, 72, first realised that her husband of 50 years, 74-year-old Jack Tan Chwee Kim, was displaying signs of memory loss in 2018. His friends also noticed that the usually outgoing and extroverted Jack was becoming more withdrawn.
Angeline suspected that these may be symptoms of dementia. As Jack’s mother was diagnosed with dementia in the past, she arranged a medical assessment for him. After a scan at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2019. Angeline also openly shares Jack’s diagnosis with their family and network of friends, so that they can help to look out for him and inform Angeline if they spot any changes in his behaviour.
Jack (middle) with his friends
Source: Jack and Angeline
Challenges brought about by Alzheimer’s Disease
Jack used to enjoy playing the ukulele twice a week with his friends. Recently, he started having difficulty remembering the chords. This is also partly exacerbated by the lack of practice due to the current COVID-19 situation, where he is unable to practise with his friends as regularly as before.
Jack (right) playing the ukulele with a friend
Source: Jack and Angeline
Jack also has trouble remembering his way. Angeline recounted an incident where he was heading to their son’s house but took a wrong turn at the MRT exit. Being independent, he tried to figure out where to go on his own but lost his way eventually. After several failed attempts to regain his bearings, he called Angeline for help. Fortunately, she managed to locate him based on his description of the surroundings. Since then, Angeline has leveraged familiar landmarks, such as shops in the MRT stations to aid Jack’s memory of the route.
How we can help
Look out and be patient
Sometimes when Jack finds himself lost in the MRT station, he will approach the station staff for help. In other instances, there have been helpful commuters who have approached him to ask if he needed help. In these cases, a few have even taken time to bring him to his destination, and Jack appreciates these caring commuters looking out for and being patient with him.
Here are some tips on how you can approach and communicate with fellow commuters like Jack who may need help on our public transport:
KIND gestures and CARE approach
Source: Dementia Singapore
Be a Caring Commuter Champion!
The Caring Commuter Champion is a volunteer programme rolled out by the Caring SG Commuters Committee, which aims to educate volunteers about the possible challenges faced by public transport commuters such as Jack as well as the elderly, families with young children, and people with mobility needs.
Upon completion of an online 2-hour training programme, volunteers are encouraged to step in to help public transport commuters in need by following the 3As framework of Assess, Ask, then Assist.
Sign up to be a Caring Commuter Champion here!