Things We Can Do to Live Well and Age Well

Things We Can Do to Live Well and Age Well

11 Jun 2019

What would you do if you find out that both your parents have dementia?

For 58-year-old Sunny Ng, he did something unusual — he decided to create a graphic book. It started as a personal project five years ago to preserve the memories his mother had of Chye Kay Village. Today, it has brought together former residents of the village at a two-day exhibition showcasing stories, photos and artworks of Chye Kay Village. The exhibition was held at Chong Pang Amphitheatre, Yishun on 9 and 10 March 2019.

Sunny Tan, chatting with one of the visitors at the Chye Kay Village exhibition
Sunny Ng at his exhibition, chatting with one of the visitors

Sunny's journey was documented by Ong Kah Jing (OKJ) in "A Sunny Past", a video produced for the AIC Video Competition held in March 2019. The video won first place in the competition.

This inaugural AIC Video Competition, themed "Live Well, Age Well", was launched by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) as part of its ongoing efforts to create a vibrant care community enabling people to live well and age gracefully. Through the sharing of these meaningful dialogues and personal stories, AIC hopes that people will start giving more thought to matters of ageing.

OKJ’s video gives viewers a peek into how Sunny faces his fear of dementia – by taking action to record his collections of Chye Kay Village. Along the way, not only did it help his mother recall stories of the place, the project also revived the kampung spirit among former residents of Chye Kay Village. Many of them stepped in to help Sunny fill in the missing pieces of his graphic book, and reunited to visit and support the exhibition.

OKJ says, “Winning this competition has been very heart-warming for me – being able to amplify the voices of the vibrant senior community through their memories and actions.” He also shared his behind-the-scenes perspective of the project on Facebook, what he has learnt and how the work has inspired him.

Another finalist in the competition took her inspiration for her video from a personal source – her grandfather. Melissa Lim aspires to be like her grandfather, and this led her to create “My Grandfather, The Chef”. Shot from the perspective of Melissa's five-year-old niece, the short film features why she loves her 89-year-old dougong (great-grandfather).

89-year-old great-grandfather cooking up a storm for his family
89-year-old dougong cooking up a storm for his family

For the little girl, her dougong is a big part in her life. Separated by over 80 years in age, she adores him for all the things that he loves doing. She enjoys his food when he cooks for their four-generation family, is amazed by his daily diligence in practising calligraphy, and is glad to spend time with her dougong when he is out with his great-grandchildren.

This video won second place in the competition. “This win is a testament to how amazing things can happen when we champion for a greater love than our own,” says Melissa. “I believe that love embraced becomes love extended, and what grounds my family goes beyond my grandfather’s cooking and our weekly dinners.”

WuBai Pictures’s “每天 (Everyday)”, took a different tack from the top two videos. The third-place winner spun a fictionalised, yet bittersweet tale of a senior with dementia as she prepares dinner for her granddaughter. The story is a poignant reminder of the things we might be missing as we rush through life.

A loving grandmother with dementia sits and waits for her granddaughter at the school gate
A loving grandmother with dementia sits and waits for her granddaughter at the school gate

Through the short film, viewers see strangers exhibiting kindness and patience towards the grandmother as she goes about her day. This is a nudge that we could all be a little more patient in our dealings with another person, especially an elderly person with dementia.

The ending where the grandmother sits down for a meal with her granddaughter, and the conversation they had is particularly relatable in modern Singapore. In our busy lives, we may unexpectedly neglect our elders. It suggests that perhaps we should all spend a little more time with our elderly loved ones.

WuBai team thanks AIC for the support and says they “hope that youngsters can relate to the short film”, be patient with seniors, and make changes in the lives of those who matter to them.

The video competition’s finalists show that as we age, the ways we cope and thrive differ from individual to individual. Finding passion for a new project, providing for the family, or building lasting friendships are just some of the many ways we can adopt to age happily and gracefully.

Check out how others are choosing to “Live Well, Age Well” with all 10 AIC Video Competition finalists’ videos here