在7月23日的 958 广播:琪实你懂吗，照顾者联盟(CAL)的心理教育者及资深辅导员 Sharon以及照顾者 Richard (67岁) 一同分享了关于照顾者自我照顾的重要性。
Richard今年67岁，照顾88岁的养父。养父自2011年被诊断患有失智症(dementia)。一开始，Richard对于失智症毫无认知，整天与养父起冲突，压力极大。当时的他没有资源，不懂得如何求救，甚至有好几次有轻生的念头。通过令居的鼓励下，Richard才决定带父亲到专科医生求救。现在，养父的失智症已到了末期，身形高壮的他具有暴力倾向，而较为娇小的Richard有时候也会遭遇养父的挨打。当被询问自己是如何应付的时候，Richard回答: “照顾者需要有三个心：爱心，耐心，和信心。” 他分享养父的所作所为是无意的，因为他生病了。作为照顾者不能怀恨在心，需要懂得放得下，懂得原谅。
那为什么照顾者需要求救? Sharon分享，照顾患有精神疾病或失智症的亲人是非常具有挑战性的。照顾者往往都非常忙碌，很难抽出时间办事，久而久之甚至会退出与他人的社交活动。照顾者在压力很大的情况下，也会面对以下症状: 不知所措，睡眠不足，经常感到疲惫，脾气变得暴躁，头痛，身体疼痛，对于以往喜欢的活动失去兴趣，悲伤，失望，甚至绝望。有时候也会滥用处方药物（如安眠药），酒精来应付沉重的压力。Sharon 也解释，照顾者往往为了照顾亲人而深感疲惫，很多时候也不晓得自己的照顾方式是对是错，因而感到迷失无助。照顾者联盟 (CAL)能够听素与指导照顾者如何更有效地照顾自己与亲人。另外，CAL 为照顾者举办的照顾者互助培训课程(C2C) 也能够加强照顾者的知识与技能。这12 个星期的课程不但包括许多重要的话题 (如: 危机处理，沟通技巧，同理心，自我照顾的重要性，等) ，也允许原本在孤军作战的照顾者们找到一帮知心的照顾者朋友群。
On 23 July 2021, Caregivers Alliance Limited’s (CAL) West Cluster Head & Senior Counsellor Ms Sharon Gan, and caregiver to his adoptive father with dementia Mr Richard Ashworth went on a Capital 95.8 radio talk show to discuss the topic: Self-care for Caregivers.
Richard (67 years old) is the sole caregiver to his 88-year-old adoptive father with late-stage dementia, who was first diagnosed in 2011. Back then, Richard did not understand what dementia was, and would often find himself fighting with his father. Richard was not aware of available resources to seek help from. Facing tremendous stress, there were multiple occasions where he thought about ending his life. It was only under his neighbour’s encouragement did he seek professional help for his father, and eventually himself.
The dementia caused Richard’s father to be violent at times. Richard being a petite man, had to bear the brunt of his father’s physical attacks – one of his front teeth was even knocked out on one occasion. When asked about why and how he continues to give care to his father, Richard said, “Caregivers must have three qualities: love, patience, and confidence”. He added that caregivers must not to hold grudges, and to forgive. His fathers’ actions are unintentional. “It’s because he is sick,” Richard said.
Why then do caregivers need to seek support for themselves? Sharon shared that caring for a loved one with a mental health condition or dementia is a challenging feat. Caregivers may find themselves feeling lost, fatigued, more irritable, experience body aches or headaches, feelings of isolation or withdrawal from social activities, and even feel a sense of hopelessness. Caregivers may also be uncertain whether they are giving the right care to their loved one.
Sharon encouraged caregivers to seek help for themselves. At CAL, for example, programme managers are able to provide emotional support and guidance to caregivers. The Caregivers-to-Caregivers Training Programme (C2C) aims to equip caregivers with the necessary knowledge and skills to better care for their loved ones and themselves. More importantly, the programme allows caregivers to be connected to a group of like-minded caregivers, and to find much-needed support.
Richard attended CAL’s 12-week C2C programme 3 years ago, and found the sharing and support most helpful. The exchange of experiences between caregiver participants allowed them a chance to air their feelings and learn from one another, and Richard felt a sense of emotional relief from knowing that he is not alone.
If you are caring for a loved one with a mental health condition or dementia, we invite you to join our C2C Programme. Sign up link: www.cal.org.sg/c2c