A Young Caregiver’s Letter to Her Father with Alzheimer’s

When Melissa’s Dad was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, she was only 14 years old.

It changed the family dynamics, and she was forced to grow up to take on the responsibility of a caregiver for her Dad. “Our roles reversed,” she said. “I had to be the parent.”

We tend to think of dementia as a condition that primarily affects older persons, and issues of early-onset are often overlooked, including its impact on family members.

The challenges that young caregivers face are unique, especially with having to cope with the struggles of adolescence, alongside competing demands of school and caregiving.

Melissa is working to address this gap through Project We Forgot, a community platform she kickstarted, which offers support for young caregivers of persons with dementia.

Melissa wished that she was more informed about her Dad’s condition so that she could be a better caregiver, amidst having to come to terms with his memory loss and confusion.

“No one taught us how to feel when we watched you slowly slip away, or how to react when your memories started fading, and you stopped remembering who we were.”

She wrote these words in a letter to her Dad more than ten years later. Had she known better as a teenager, perhaps there could have been more empathy and understanding.

There was no one she could confide with in school, seeing that there was hardly any awareness about issues of dementia amongst her circle of friends and teachers.

With lessons learned from her own experience, Melissa hopes that young caregivers won’t have to feel the same isolation like she did. Through Project We Forgot, they can access resources and be connected with others who are going through similar journeys.

At the same time, Melissa actively reaches out to different institutions around Singapore to help raise awareness and support for the needs of caregivers at school or the workplace.

Meaningful change can only happen when there’s increased public education, she feels.

Reflecting on her journey, Melissa sees a large part of her Dad in who she is now, especially his entrepreneurial spirit, which gave her the impetus to kickstart Project We Forgot.

“I hope that I’m doing you proud, Dad.” She tells him as she ends her letter.


Project We Forgot is a community network platform to inform, empower and support caregivers to persons with dementia.

You can learn more about PWF at projectweforgot.com/about/

Join PWF if you’re a caregiver projectweforgot.com/pwfapp/

Celebrate World Alzheimer’s Month 2017 at the We Remember!

Festival weremember2017.peatix.com/

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Our Better World – Telling Stories. Inspiring Action.

We tell stories of people doing good in Asia to inspire global action.

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Our Better World is a digital storytelling initiative of the Singapore International Foundation.
Commissioned by Our Better World.
Design and Animation by Khoo Siew May
Additional cel animation: Tan Yin
Voice Over: Melissa
Producer: Grace Baey
Special Thanks to Audrey Yeo
View the process of the animation here: behance.net/gallery/57644689/A-Young-Caregivers-Letter-to-Her-Father-with-Alzheimer