Singapore has begun a 10-year study on dementia and depression, the first in Asia so far.

This week, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced that the research received a 1.8 million SGD donation from Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temple alongside the National University of Singapore, which will be conducting the study.

The study is being carried out to gauge if loneliness or living alone increases the risks of such mental health problems among the elderly.

As part of the study, 108 elderly residents living in Jurong and Bukit Merah took part in a 10-week programme aimed at finding out if activities such as tai chi and art therapy could bring down anxiety levels and depressive symptoms.

Singapore's population aged 65 years and older is increasing, from 9.3 percent in 2011 to 22 percent in 2025 and even 30 percent in 2030. With the ageing population increasing, doctors said more help will be needed -- especially in the long-term care sector.

The Singapore Government has, besides funding research projects, set a budget of about 500 million SGD to build 10 new nursing homes, 39 new Senior Care Centres and 56 new Senior Activity Centres by 2016 to support the needs of the local population.-VNA