Christmas party a bright spot at dementia centre
Elderly patients enthusiastically join in the games as volunteers from Manulife pay a visit for a day of laughter and festive gift-giving
The games and gifts may have been simple, but the company of the volunteers brought smiles to the faces of the elderly dementia patients at the centre.
Manulife's 14 volunteers were at the Alzheimer's Disease Association's Tsuen Wan centre on Tuesday for an early Christmas party. The volunteers played games like dressing up as Santa and passing colourful balls with more than 20 elderly people with mild to moderate dementia.
They also gave each patient a fleece jacket as a Christmas gift.
"I'm so happy today because there are so many people here. I don't have to stay home alone all day and be idle," Kwan Yuk-lin, 86, said as she laughed and clapped enthusiastically during the games.
Financial services firm Manulife has been a major Operation Santa Claus donor for more than a decade.
This year, the annual festive charity drive, jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, is raising funds for 18 non-profit organisations including the association.
"Christmas is a season of thanksgiving and love. Other than giving donations, we also hope to spend time with the elderly people," said Helena Lee Kam-fun, Manulife's head of corporate communications. "Perhaps chatting with them will help to stimulate their memories of festive celebrations in the past."
The funding will subsidise dementia-specific day-care services provided at the association's two centres in Tsuen Wan and Tseung Kwan O. Under the programme, patients receive cognitive stimulation training to slow their deterioration.
"Some of the elderly people come from low-income families and are unable to afford the service," Lee added. "We hope the donations can help them."
Carmen Ng Ka-man, the association's executive director, said new things like visitors and games served to stimulate the dementia patients, which helped with their condition.
But the patients had to be briefed prior to the event, as they tended to be less adaptable to new things and got agitated more easily, she added.
The first sign of dementia is usually forgetfulness, before patients progressively lose the ability to care for themselves.
The centres also help by providing training so mild to moderately affected patients can care for themselves.
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