The Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation Malaysia offers much needed support to those living with Alzheimer’s disease.
IT was by chance that I found the Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation of Malaysia (ADFM) in 1998.
At that time, I had already given my one-month resignation notice to my employer. There was no one to care for my mother who started showing signs of the disease in 1994 after my father passed away.
In that one month, I searched frantically for a day-care centre for Mum and a caregiver support group for myself. I surfed the Net, I wrote to the Malaysian Medical Association, and I asked people around me.
Awareness of the illness was low. By chance, just before I left The Star, a librarian found an article on the ADFM, which had just registered itself the year before.
I hooked up with it and became the first chairman of its caregivers’ support group in the Klang Valley.
When we first started, we rented a room at the Spastic Centre behind Crystal Crown Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, to hold our monthly meetings.
At the time I was living in Klang, Selangor. In 2000, Mum and I moved in with my brother and his family in Kuala Lumpur. We tried sharing the caring so that I could go back to work.
Things didn’t work out and after six months, Mum and I moved to a walk-up flat in Puchong, Selangor.
I went back to work the same year after getting my cousin, a homemaker, to care for Mum. I would send Mum early in the morning to Serdang where my cousin lives and double back to work at a magazine in Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya.
The evening traffic battle got to me after a year, and we moved house again to a rented house in Serdang, just two streets away from my cousin. The same year (2001), I went back to work at The Star.
In 2006, Mum and I moved house again to just five doors away from my cousin. Mum had the best six years of “home day-care” from my cousin who stopped because of health reasons. In 2007, I started Mum at a day-care centre, a 10-minute drive from our home.
As I moved from house to house, the ADFM grew and set up its own home, and several day-care centres. The first started operations in 2002 at Taman Seputeh, Kuala Lumpur.
From the Spastic Centre, we moved our caregivers’ support group meetings there.
In 2008, the ADFM raised enough funds to buy its own building at Section 11, Petaling Jaya, a five-minute drive from Universiti Malaya Medical Centre. This is where the headquarters is today, as well as a day-care centre.
In 2011, the ADFM 24-hour homecare centre started operations at Telok Panglima Garang, Selangor.
Mum was there for five months till early December that year. The final three years of her journey with Alzheimer’s were at two other nursing homes in the Klang Valley.
It was a difficult period in my life as the homes were not specialised in Alzheimer’s care.
But there is good news. With the growing demand for its respite care services, the ADFM has now obtained a plot of land in Old Town, Petaling Jaya, to build a three-storey training and care centre. Costs of building it are estimated at RM1.8mil.
To raise funds for the new building, the ADFM is holding a charity concert and hopes to raise RM800,000. I will be attending the event, and I believe my mother will be there with me in spirit.
Although Mum will not get to enjoy the new care centre, it is hoped that loved ones like her would get to benefit from it. As for the caregivers, we would be gratified to have another specialised centre and welcome the respite care greatly needed in our journey with the long goodbye.
And, Mum, I know that you are now in a better home in another place where there is no pain and every day is a day of celebration with joyous music among your friends.
We will not forget you and we will celebrate life in your memory at the new care centre.
The Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation Malaysia (ADFM) will be hosting Forget Me Not, Konsert Amal DiRaja, on Dec 5 at the Plenary Hall, KLCC, in celebration of the 69th birthday of Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, the Sultan of Selangor. The concert will feature the world renowned Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, with special guests, local singer-songwriter Najwa Mahiaddin and prize-winning violinist Huang Bin. The 72-piece orchestra will be led by our very own accomplished conductor Eugene Pook, and will feature light classical music, popular favourites and sheer symphony magic. For event enquiries, call the ADFM at 03-7956 2008/7958 3008 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For ticketing enquiries, call TicketCharge at 03-9222 8811 or visit www.ticketcharge.com.my.