SINGAPORE: The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) is working with international and local researchers on a three—year nationwide study on the well—being of the elderly in Singapore.
Called Well—being of the Singapore Elderly (WiSE), it will be comprehensive and aims to establish data on the burden of dementia and depression among the elderly in Singapore.
Some 5,300 Singaporeans will be involved in the survey.
It also aims to bridge the knowledge gap on the risk factors, healthcare use and economic impact.
The S$4.4 million programme is funded by the Ministry of Health and Singapore Millennium Foundation, which is supported by Temasek Trust.
Currently, there are some 28,000 senior citizens aged 60 years and above with dementia in Singapore.
The number is expected to rise to 80,000 by 2030.
For now, there is little information on the impact of the illness on the elderly and their families.
Also, many dementia cases go undiagnosed as their symptoms are often mistaken for poor memory or natural signs of old age.
As such, doctors say such a study is timely.
"Getting data of this kind will help the ministry plan better, where it wants to put the money and how much money it wants to put," said Professor Mythily Subramaniam, the deputy director of the research division at IMH.
"It’s very important (that) people participate in this study, to give us honest answers so that we are able to give a good projection."
Professor Mythily added, "This multi—centred, multi—disciplinary collaborative study brings together researchers with different expertise such as qualitative research, epidemiology, health economics and mental health to collect, analyse, interpret and provide accurate information to stakeholders on these disorders."
An important focus of the WiSE study is to understand the needs and the burden of caregivers of elderly patients with dementia.
These findings will then bring to light how these caregivers are making use of current healthcare services and to what extent they are actually helping dementia patients.
Survey results are expected to released in 2014.
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