Singapore maid nearly dies after employer with dementia pushes her down stairs
Could this have been avoided?
You generally understand the risks that your job brings before you start, but becoming a maid typically doesn’t entail a life or death situation. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A maid in Singapore got seriously injured after her employer with dementia pushed her down some stairs. This incident raises the question about dementia and Singapore care for foreign domestic workers (FDWs).
The incident is reported to have taken place at 2pm on Dec, 10, around exit D of Clementi MRT station. The 41-year-old Indonesian maid tried to convince her employer, Singaporean 67-year-old Mr Chen Yangda, to take the lift at exit C. However, Mr Chen insisted on using the escalator, according to Lianhe Wanbao.
A heated argument broke out and Mr Chen allegedly pushed the maid. After losing her balance, she fell backwards and hit her head on the handrail. She fell down the full flight of the escalator and landed at the foot.
Around 2:20pm, a Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman reported receiving a call requesting for medical assistance. Paramedics arrived shortly after and transported the maid to the National University Hospital.
Mr Chen, believed to have dementia, hired the maid (who is identified as Ms Diya) only a month ago.
After this incident, Ms Diya told the Shin Min Daily News she is actively looking for a change of employer.
Many people hire maids to help with domestic chores and also caring for those unable to fully care for themselves. However, not being aware of mental health disorders makes it difficult to provide the appropriate level of care necessary for the employer.
According to WebMD, dementia is defined as “a syndrome that involves a significant global impairment of cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, language, logical reasoning, and problem-solving”. 1% of adults age 60 suffer from dementia and the risk of developing this cognitive impairment increases with age.
As a result of dementia, people offer exhibit these symptoms:
- Disorientation and confusion.
- Anxiety and fear. They are prone to depression.
- Inability to manage finances (due to forgetting important information like PIN numbers)
- Having lower self-esteem and less confidence
- Forgetting important people close to them like friends and family
- Personality changes
There are early, middle and late stages of dementia. Unfortunately, there isn’t yet a cure for the different forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease. But there are ways to manage the condition to provide the best care.
Prescribed medications such as Donepezil, Rivastigmine, Galantamine or Memantine can slow down the progression of the illness.
Antidepressants can be used to treat depression while antipsychotics can help treat hallucinations and paranoia, which can be seen in dementia. However, these should be prescribed by a doctor.
Getting an early diagnosis enables patients and caregivers to have a better understanding of their condition.
Psychological approaches include helping to orient patients (reality orientation) and focus on meaningful activities of the past (reminiscence therapy).
Cognitive training can equip them with skills to decrease everyday problems and improve the quality of their lives. Behavioural modifications can help patients change specific challenging behaviour.
3. Social Interventions
Families and caregivers often misunderstand the condition, which can lead to being unable to offer compassionate support. Following these tips help people suffering from dementia manage better with their day to day activities.
- Be patient and empathetic towards Alzheimer’s disease patients.
- Communicate in a calm, quiet environment, with good eye contact.
- Maintain a regular routine to help bring structure and decrease anxiety.
- Simplify activities.
- Write down reminders and place them around the house where it is visible.
- Create a safe environment.
- When the person becomes agitated, distract with another activity.
- A new difficult behaviour may be due to a medical condition such as infection or medication side effects and needs evaluation and treatment by a doctor.
- Neighbours can also help to keep a look out for each other, especially if anyone starts to act out of the norm or appears to not recognise the surroundings.
- Join a support group and learn from each other by sharing experiences and discover solutions when caring for patients with dementia.
If you need support with caring for anyone with dementia, please seek medical assistance as per the Ministry of Health Singapore guidelines. It can be exhausting emotionally and physically, but with the right support framework in place, everyone can get through this together.