recap review restart 

I haven’t posted for months though the thought often comes to mind. There’s enough to say but I’m not sure where to start again. So here’s a recap, which is also a summary of sorts for myself. 

Mom has dementia and has lived with me several years. She is increasingly homebound as her energy levels are falling and she walks slowly and carefully. She fills her day scanning through newspapers, watching TV and looking out. Sometimes she packs her “stuff”.

I work so I have a helper in my home who keeps Mom company, looks after her and does much of the housework. Singapore has about 300000 such foreign helpers for a population of just under 6 million – these helpers play a huge role in childcare and eldercare. Without her I wouldn’t be able to manage.

Mom is happy and smiles easily, so we’re lucky in that sense. Does she recognize me? Of course! She knows I’m a loved one who looks after her and lives in the house. But words are confused. Daughter-Sister Son-Husband – she knows which are male and which are female. No need to be 100% accurate, they’re all home characters or frequent visitors who love and care for her. She recognizes and remembers people she often sees even though she cannot name them. 

To everyone else (not so close relatives) she says, “I don’t quite remember you.” It often bothers the others so much more than it bothers her. The older folk will be dismayed and distressed. My younger cousins not so, because they can’t imagine it happening to them. I just tell them she can’t remember you because you look so different now! Mom just carries on, smiling, “I don’t remember. So who are you again? No, I don’t have any recollection.” 

A Year in Review

A couple of weeks back, I noticed one of my posts was getting a lot of views from unknown persons. That post was “What is a Snack?” and it gave a snapshot of how Mom was about a year ago. She was confused, disorientated and gave the impression that she would only get worse and the end was near.

Fortunately for us, she stabilised, and amazingly enough, she probably even improved slightly. She’s still frail, but seems less confused, and she doesn’t get as agitated or wake up at night.

I’m not sure what helped the most. And I am very hesitant to report this…. but we started her on coconut oil. Just one teaspoon everyday. At the same time, we slowed down on snacks and rice as she was more sedentary and gaining weight.

It is all still very controversial and the theory goes like this – Alzheimer’s is a kind of diabetes of the brain. The science on this is still in its infancy, and more findings are required. Now Mom doesn’t have diabetes, but she does have mixed dementia (combined Alzheimer’s and vascular), and she has vascular disease similar to those found in persons with diabetes. So in theory, if she has something like diabetes, she may benefit from a diet that’s good for persons with diabetes.

There’s a huge controversy on what’s good for a person with diabetes today. One idea is that a high fat diet is good, and to avoid carbohydrates and excessive protein. It’s hard to believe that the minor change we made to her diet made any difference, but here we are. I’ll say no more.

Population Fears

Copy of picture from 18th century depicting life in Kaifeng circa 1000AD

Singapore is all abuzz about the projected population growth from 5.3m today to 6.9m in 2030.

People are feeling the squeeze and complaining no end about it. Housing is expensive, cars are expensive, and public transport is too crowded for comfort. The population is rapidly aging too, and the older population above 65 years of age is expected to triple to 900,000 by 2030.

Methinks we plan and worry too much… maybe about the wrong things.

The numbers that caught my eye are actually the following:

There are approximately 200,000 foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in Singapore today. These are the women (mainly) who arrive from some neighbouring countries to live and work in the homes of Singapore residents. They are engaged mostly to look after young children and do the housework, but increasingly often, they are brought in to look after older folk.

Without them, 200,000 households out of the million of so will not be able to enjoy their current lifestyle.

In 2030, the number of foreign domestic workers is estimated to rise to 300,000.

300,000 out of 6.9m if the projected population will be foreign domestic workers (otherwise known as “maids”).

The good thing about FDWs is that they allow the elderly infirm to be looked after within their own homes, at affordable rates.

The bad news is that relying on FDWs is surely not sustainable in the long run. Some day, FDWs will stop arriving on our shores, and what will families do then?