It is estimated that there are over 210,000 caregivers in Singapore, and 70 per cent are aged 40 and above. As our ageing population continues to rise, who then, will care for the caregivers?
In this 1-hour Let’s CHAt! A Journey of Care Talk Show by the Singapore Patient Conference, Mrs Karen Poh and Mr Nicholas Sim, both caregivers, shared their experiences.
Karen’s son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 15 years old, which later on led to depression. At the time, Karen was living overseas with her three sons while her husband worked in Singapore. On top of struggling with a lack of support from family and friends in a foreign land, she also had to manage her roles as a caregiver and a single parent – her two other sons had thought that she was favouring their brother who in fact needed the extra care.
“I had to split myself into three to cater to all their needs. It was really physically, mentally and emotionally tiring,” Karen recalled. When the family had to return to Singapore, her son’s condition worsened due to a culture shock. This was when Karen decided to seek help at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), where she was referred to Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL). She attended the 12-week Caregivers-to-Caregivers (C2C) Training Programme and benefitted greatly from it. “I had a better understanding of the disease itself, and how I could help my son,” Karen says.
At CAL, she found herself a support system, a second family, and a new calling. Hoping to journey with other caregivers, Karen went on to volunteer with CAL, and a few years on, she is now a full-time Volunteer Manager there.
For Nicholas, his whole world crashed when his wife was diagnosed with dementia 9 years ago. Overnight, Nicholas became the sole provider and a single parent. He was worried about how it would impact his then young children and had to juggle between caring for his wife and keeping the family whole.
Nicholas was referred to Care Library where his wife received person-centered therapy and Nicholas found himself caregiver support. Till now, he is an active volunteer at the Care Library and gives back by helping and supporting other caregivers.
Beyond speaking openly and honestly about their personal journeys, Karen and Nicholas also talked about some of the biggest concerns they have as caregivers, what they do t practice self-love, and also shared other caregiver anecdotes that they came across during their volunteer work.
Missed the livestream? Watch the recording here: https://www.facebook.com/singaporepatientconference/videos/390829369110752/