Through the eyes of Emily, a dementia advocate who has early onset dementia herself, we explore Singapore’s first dementia friendly neighbourhood and investigate how helpful the dementia friendly facilities are for persons living with Dementia.
It is one part of two interactive projects which aims to change narratives about dementia, highlight the positive and negative sides of the illness and was published on World Alzheimer’s Day in 2022.
Although the main goal of this project was to change narratives about dementia, these two projects also set a benchmark for how to tell impactful stories about key issues in our communities.
The project was well-viewed and was among our top 8 most viewed interactives for the year. It was well-shared among the dementia-friendly community. It has also helped further the dialogue about how dementia is not all doom and gloom but can also be filled with positive experiences if communities are set up to help people understand about the illness. LinkedIn also picked it as one of the top stories on 27 Sept, the week it was published.
As a result of the dementia package, the contributions of the two dementia advocates we interviewed for the project – Ms Alison Lim and Mr Anjang Rosli – were made known to the public, and they were nominated for the ST Singaporean of the Year 2022 Award.
The stories were also widely shared on social media, including the Asian Development Bank’s Social Development Thematic Group, who does a lot of research into and provides financial support for ageing and age-related policies in Asia.
We created a seamless real-life to 3D transition for exploring Singapore’s first dementia-friendly neighbourhood. This particular alley in Yishun was interesting for us to reconstruct in 3D because it’s where many of the demenita friendly facilities are featured – the barricades, the large block signages, the different color coded buildings and icons. It is also not on Google Earth, so we were creating something from scratch which readers could not find online.
We also used a tilegram visualisation of Singapore to effectively communicate age data nuances across different neighbourhoods. Through the tilegrams, readers can identify which neighbourhoods have a higher percentage of elderly citizens than average. This was also the first time the team has used this type of visualisation. As it was a visualisation our readers may not be familiar with, we decided to introduce a map of Singapore first to set the context before transitioning into the tilegrams.
Context about the project:
The entire duration of the project took about 9 months. We started ideating in January and the project was only published in Sept on World Alzheimer’s Day. Due to the changing nature of the disease, we had to remain flexible with our plans, especially for our profiles. For the walk in to 3D shot, we initially had another profile in mind but his condition deteriorated over the months and he was not in the right condition for filming. We also had to be sensitive when filming as they might not be comfortable with cameras following them. So our filming schedules had to be carefully planned out because we needed to make sure that we were not disrupting them and their routines as routines are incredibly important for persons with dementia. Moreover, we were not only filming for our interactive. As this was a cross-media project, the video teams were also doing two documentaries, and we had to make sure that our filming schedule allowed time for that.
What can other journalists learn from this project?
I think the biggest takeaway would be that it is possible to change narratives about key issues in our communities. For stories that deserve the light and attention, if done well, it has the power to change lives and make a difference.
As mentioned before, two dementia advocates we interviewed for the project – Ms Alison Lim and Mr Anjang Rosli – were nominated for the ST Singaporean of the Year 2022 Award. Their contributions were made known to the public as a result of our dementia package.
Our stories were also shared on social media and acknowleged by people at the Asian Development Bank’s Social Development Thematic Group, who does a lot of research into and provides financial support for ageing and age-related policies in Asia.