Monday, February 7, 2011


My 85-year old mother is in relatively good health and able to move around with the aid of a walking stick. But her memory is fading. There will come a time when she will need more care.

With my siblings all busy with their own lives, I know I will end up as my mom's sole caregiver by default. It is a role I have taken on for the past 15 years. So I won't be in unfamiliar territory. The only difference is my stress level will probably shoot up, and I will have to make changes in my lifestyle. Will I be up to the task?

Dr Lee Wei Ling's article "Who cares for the caregivers?" published recently in The Straits Times must have resonated with many women who have to look after an ailing elderly parent.

Source: Straits Times 30 Jan, 2011

I quote an excerpt from a letter a reader wrote in response to Dr Lee's article. Dr Lee heads the National Neuroscience Institute of Singapore, and is the daughter of Lee Kuan Yew, former Singapore PM.

"The emotional and psychological stress of the caregiver takes its toll and very quickly the caregiver becomes very tired and drained. There are no support groups, as far as I know, where caregivers can share common experiences and frustrations so the caregiver in Singapore has to rely on the listening ear of good friends and relatives who have the time to spare.

I live this frustration every day despite having a dedicated maid to take care of all my 91-year-old mother's needs. I worry when my mother doesn't eat right. I worry when she complains of aches and pains. I worry when she becomes sullen and depressed, which is most of the time.

I tell myself I shouldn't care if she eats her meals or not, but I do. I don't get any smiles or thank yous from her and most times I feel she is unappreciative of whatever I do. All I get are scowls and frowns and complaints that the food I cook (I do all the cooking) is not done right.

So how do you stay motivated to do this every day? How does the caregiver block all negative thoughts?"

File photo
If caregiving can extract a high physical, mental and emotional toll on a filial daughter, it must be 10 times more so for a son. Click here to read Matthew N's scathing article about how looking after his 64-year old mother is driving him nuts. He calls her a 'drama queen', a 'sympathy junkie' and much worse - too profane to quote here.

I am glad none of these labels fit my mom. She may be difficult at times, but she's the only mother I have.

For my personal tips on caregiving, do click here to read my article "Caring For An Elderly Parent" which was published in the Singapore Women's Weekly, Nov 2009 edition.

No comments: