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Museums serve as iconic cultural landmarks in Singapore and are considered community spaces for many art, history and science lovers in the country. This includes persons living with dementia and their caregivers. However, persons living with dementia may feel uneasy and experience difficulty navigating and engaging with artefacts owing to a number of reasons. These range from a museum’s layout to other dementia-specific factors like overstimulation and communication needs.

Fortunately, there have been conscious efforts to make museums safe, accessible and conducive environments that offer various meaningful activities that are tailored to the needs of persons living with dementia.

Here is a list of museums that offer a variety of activities that you can do with your loved one living with dementia:

National Gallery Singapore

1. Art With You

Source: National Gallery Singapore

Art with You is an evidence-based programme developed by National Gallery Singapore (NGS) in partnership with Dementia Singapore (DSG). Aimed at fostering positive and meaningful interactions that support the wellbeing of caregivers and persons living with dementia, it combines person-centred care with arts engagement to create a space where your loved one is respected, understood and empowered.  

Art with You comprises two main components. In the first half of the programme, participants are taken on a tour of a curated group of artefacts specially selected based on various themes. Both you and your loved one are encouraged to share your thoughts and memories connected to the artworks. In the second half of the programme, your loved one living with dementia can partake in simple art-making activities inspired by the artefacts or artworks seen previously. These activities afford persons living with dementia the opportunity to exercise fine motor skills and express themselves creatively. 

Those interested to participate in Art with You may do so in the following ways: 

Guided Group Visits

• Led by trained docents at NGS

• Minimum group size: Two pairs of caregivers and persons living with dementia

• Maximum group size: Four pairs of caregivers and persons living with dementia

Please contact [email protected] for more information about group visits

Self-guided Visits

• You and your loved one with dementia can experience the programme at your own pace with the help of the Art with You Caregivers Guide and Art Kit (art-making materials).

The Art with You Caregivers Guide and Art Kit are free. Find out where you can locate these resources at NGS here.

To further encourage those impacted by dementia to participate in this programme, NGS is providing free All Access Admission and paid Back-of-House tours to all persons living with dementia and one accompanying caregiver (including CARA members).

For more information on ticketing and concessions, please visit  https://www.nationalgallery.sg/admissions.

2. Calm Room

Source: National Gallery Singapore

Persons living with dementia may sometimes display feelings of distress, agitation and anxiety for various reasons. Often, the triggers for behavioural changes are external to your loved one, rather than an inevitable consequence of their dementia progression. These external triggers include problems in the social and physical environments that can be addressed and managed.

If situations like these arise, you may bring your loved one living with dementia to The Calm Room, which is a dedicated space at NGS where visitors can rest if they are feeling over-stimulated or overwhelmed by their environment. It is a soothing and sensory-friendly space where your loved one may take their time to calm down, regulate their stress responses, and recalibrate in private.

It contains a variety of sensory items, such as fidget toys and weighted blankets, aimed at supporting and allowing visitors with sensory needs to control their sensory experience.

Additionally, the room is wheelchair-accessible and features an ambient soundscape and private seating pods. If necessary, the lighting and sound levels in the room can also be adjusted.

National Museum of Singapore

1. Senior-friendly On-site Tours

Source: National Museum of Singapore

This is an on-site tour of the museum’s permanent galleries specially designed for seniors, including persons living with dementia and their caregivers, guided by the museum’s Care Facilitators. It explores a different theme every month and participants are encouraged to share their experiences and personal stories while exploring artefacts in the museum’s collection.

Find out more about the on-site tour at the National Museum of Singapore here.

2. Senior-friendly Virtual Tours

Held on every third Thursday of the month, this is a virtual tour conducted via Zoom. Similar to the on-site tour, it is guided by the museum’s Care Facilitators. It is currently being conducted in English only.  

Find out more about the on-site tour at the National Museum of Singapore here.

3. Self-guided Tour

Should you and your loved one prefer to explore the museum by yourselves, you may do so with the aid of the NMS Easy Guide. It is free to download, with limited physical copies available at the museum. 

This guide will allow for a fuss-free planning experience and is also suitable for use as a conversational toolkit.  

Find out where you can locate a physical copy or download the NMS Easy Guide here. 

With ongoing efforts to make various spaces in Singapore more dementia-inclusive, there is no doubt that this list will continue to grow.

These programmes and activities are beneficial to persons living with dementia as well as caregivers like yourself. As most of the tours are guided by docents and/or staff, caregivers are given the opportunity to take a breather from their caregiving responsibilities while providing an opportunity for your loved one with dementia to participate in meaningful activities.

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Downloadable Resources

The following resources contain bite-sized information on The ABCDs of Dementia Progression that you may download and/ or print: 
Click on the images below to download in English.

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