Positive Approach to Caring for Dementia with Calvin Chong

by KT Leong

A workshop on dementia was held earlier today at the BebeLEC Day Centre. The topic, which was “Adjusting Care to Different Dementia Stages”, was facilitated by Mr. Calvin Chong, who is a Teepa Snow certified trainer.

We recently managed to catch up with Calvin to talk about  the topic of dementia, and what the future might hold for those suffering from it and their caregivers.

Even and measured in his speech, Calvin is a listener, who is nonetheless able to convey the passion he has in understanding and caring for people living with dementia.

He highlighted the current challenges faced by those living with dementia and their caregivers, and how these challenges might evolve in the future. This led to us having a conversation about how dementia might have been handled before.

We talked about how people with dementia used to be cared for, before we understood the disease as we do now. After all, dementia has been around for thousands of years, it’s only in recent decades that we’ve identified it as a disease.

In previous days, households could be supported by a single breadwinner and the family could take care of the more elderly members. We sort of joked how perhaps, the stereotype of the “difficult mother-in-law” whom the daughter in law had to care for, might have been suffering from dementia, but the condition was simply brushed off as elderly people being difficult.

Over time, the housewife had to go out to work to support the family, and the maid was brought in. And now, even maids are no longer affordable for most households.

With even homes for seniors becoming too expensive for lower income families to sustain; it is becoming the responsibility of direct family members or the partner to take care of the sufferers of dementia.

To this end, Calvin and his team are rushing to educate and train people on how they can handle and take care of people living with dementia; to equip them with the knowledge and techniques that will save them a lot of headaches and suffering than if they simply “fight” the people living with dementia. He sees the family as being the chief caregivers under the current landscape.

But he’s also worried about the future, as more people go out to live their own lives and we’re left with fewer extended households where grandparents live with their kids and grandkids. With more senior citizens living alone, those who become struck with dementia will slowly lose their capacity to take care of themselves or to even survive on their own. There is a worry that we may one day see a spike in cases of senior citizens dying alone in their homes, before society finally decides to take action.

In the meantime, Calvin and his crew are doing their best by organising workshops to be held at BebeLEC Day Centre at 56, Jalan Lang, 30000 Ipoh. These workshops are usually held on Saturdays and alternatingly presented in English and Bahasa Malaysia.

The next 2 months are already arranged, so those interested should contact Calvin Chong at 016-7907649 or Emily Wong at 017-3622644 for further details.

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