When her mother was diagnosed with dementia in 2017, she felt lost and was unsure of what to do.
But local actress-host Munah Bagharib, 33, managed to find her footing in her role as her mother’s primary caregiver, alongside her father and brother.
So when she was given the opportunity to be an ambassador for Dementia Singapore, a social service agency, she leapt at the chance.
Munah told The New Paper: “(This role) will give me the chance to have conversations with others and help them understand more about dementia.”
She and fellow newly appointed celebrity ambassador, local actor Tay Ping Hui, will be raising awareness about the condition come September, which is also World Alzheimer’s Month, with the goal of transforming Singapore into a dementia-inclusive society.
Munah said her housewife-mother first had trouble forming sentences, which prompted her family to take her to a doctor.
She was eventually diagnosed at age 61 with frontotemporal dementia – a condition that affects behaviour and language – which has since remained manageable.
Munah said that while she experienced some caregiver stress in the first few years, she has learnt to accept the challenges as they come.
“Being a caregiver is not easy, but it is a joy to take care of my mum.
“At the end of the day, my priority is to support her and make sure she feels loved,” she said.
Munah understands the frustrations of caregiver fatigue and urges young caregivers to seek help and get resources from the community at Dementia Singapore.
“The most important tip I have is communicate with your loved ones with patience.
“For example, when my mum says something completely irrelevant from what my family is talking about, we make it a point not to stop her but to go with it and just enjoy the conversation with her,” she added.
Tay, 51, also has relatives living with different stages of dementia.
He told TNP: “When we were much younger, we got to only hear distant stories about the elderly within our community getting dementia.
“In many ways, it has always been more of a concept than a personal experience. But with time, it gradually hits closer to home as those who are closer to us experience it.”
Tay hopes to reduce the stigma surrounding dementia, adding: “There have been many misconceptions with regard to how dementia occurs and how it progresses when steps are not taken to address or delay the deterioration.
“That is why I hope that more education and information can be made available, so that we can have less negativity towards dementia.”