Partnering with REACH Community Services, CAL conducted a two-part workshop on 23rd July and 20th August 2022 for caregivers from REACH’s Caregiver Support Group (CSG) and befrienders. As the caregivers in the CSG care for loved ones with dementia and co-existing conditions such as depression and anxiety, the workshop sought to address their concerns by outlining possible symptoms, the inner experience of their loved one and suggesting management strategies.
In the first session, “Communication with a Loved One with Mental Health Conditions”, Programme Manager Elizabeth Swee examined the communication challenges that caregivers may face. For persons with dementia, they might experience physiological changes such as sensory loss and cognitive decline. Through the session, the caregivers recognised that communication is a two-way street and were provided with tips for better relationship-building.
Head of Operations and Programmes Ca'uis Chan continued with the second session on “Empathy”, discussing the need to view situations from the lenses of the loved one. Due to the loss of autonomy and control over some of their functions or skillsets, the loved one may display anxiety and negative behaviour. Hence it is important for the caregivers to engage with their loved one using all their senses – it should be an active and present process.
Elizabeth and Ca’uis also provided their personal stories about caring for their loved ones with dementia. The caregivers also had the chance to put on their thinking caps through group activities and roleplay to reinforce their learning.
We would like to thank REACH for the opportunity to connect with these caregivers. It was wonderful to know that they appreciated the sessions and experience! We look forward to meeting more of them (and you!) through this partnership.