Thursday, June 2, 2011

A CAREGIVER TAKES A BREAK IN PHUKET

Far from the madding crowd and from the daily stress of caregiving.
I have the deepest respect and admiration for caregivers who quietly dispense TLC day in and day out without complaint. Me? After only three months as primary caregiver to my mom, I'm suffering from burn-out.

Thanks to my sister who's in KL to relieve me, I'm able to take a week's vacation in Phuket, courtesy of my daughter Belle. Much as I am concerned about my mom, I welcome this temporary respite from my caregiving responsibilities.

All caregivers welcome a break, but not all are fortunate enough to get that break. A few hours of free time to go out, see a movie or visit a friend can do wonders to lift the morale of a full-time caregiver.

Enjoying the luxury of having room service and someone else do all the housekeeping.
Looking after my mom during her post-surgery recuperation required a drastic cut-back in my work commitments and activities. Now that geriatrician Prof Dr Philip Poi has confirmed that my mom has dementia, my role as her primary caregiver has taken on a new dimension. I have to double my efforts to stay patient and calm. A simple task like showering my mom and getting her dressed for breakfast can be quite an exasperating experience. There are so many little tasks like these to get through each day, with each one having the potential to turn into a bickering session.

My bathroom at the villa is spick and span - no commode, bed pan or strange odours for a change.
Dr Poi tells me not to argue with my mom, as she doesn't understand me anyway and won't even remember what the argument was about. He says I must always humour her and be patient with her. It's easy to accept the advice, but applying it is a different matter altogether. I confess I haven't always succeeded in keeping my cool. Harsh words spoken in a moment of exasperation often leave me feeling guilty and wondering if I am a filial daughter.

Finally after three months of sleeping on a mattress on the floor next to my mom, I get to sleep on a proper bed in the villa.
It's so important that family members offer to help out with caregiving duties on a regular basis. They should volunteer to take turns to look after their elderly parents for a few hours each week to allow their caregiver sibling a chance to unload some of the stress.
Blogging at my little work-station in the villa.


6 comments:

Pak Idrus said...

Lily, you look great. Enjoy yourself. Take care.

el-f said...

Thanks, Pak Idrus. Come Monday, it's back to the real world. At least I'll be re-energized!

William said...

I have been following and enjoying the articles on your blog for the past year. Keep on writing and enjoy the break, you truly deserve it!

el-f said...

William, comments like yours keep me blogging. Glad you enjoy reading the posts. Thanks for the moral support.

Chuah said...

Lily, there's a good handbook on care giving which might be of interest to you. It's called "Care giving..the journey starts with you" and is available at AWWA Centre for Caregivers, 11 Lorong Napiri Singapore. The last time I was in S'pore, I managed to pick up a free copy. Chapter 8 on "Managing Caregiver Stress" is especially relevant.

el-f said...

Thanks for the tip, Chuah. Our doctor friends in Singapore have also passed me some excellent reading materials on dementia and AD. Everyone has been so kind and supportive.

I'm reading "Keeping Mum" at the moment. It's a journal of entries written by a caregiver. She writes about how she copes with caring for her mother who has Alzheimer's. Very practical advice and most applicable to my current situation.