The current ratio of adults aged 20 to 64 years to older adults aged 65 years and above is 6.4, according to the Department of Statistics Singapore, although a recent news article (“Fast-ageing Singapore, fewer to support aged; Trend worries experts”, The Sunday Times, 27 Sept 2013) put this figure at 5.5. Concerns about an ageing demographic aren’t solely a local concern. According to the facts and figures from WHO, life expectancy and medical advances make this issue in other countries too.
It should be pointed out that its entirely arbitrary that we should support someone at age 65 but not the year before. But nevertheless, ageing is a pressing issue. Consequently, ageing issues receive much media attention, with recent special reports such as those listed below, putting the spotlight on caregivers.
- “Facing ageing Singapore’s caregiver crunch”, Straits Times, 24 Sep 2013
- “Caregiver special: 75, and still looking after son”, Straits Times, 24 Sept 2013
- “Caregiver special: The day he lost his soulmate to dementia”, Straits Times, 25 Sept 2013
- “Caregiver to wife till her death, and now son”, Straits Times, 1 Oct 2013
- “Well-being of caregivers just as vital”, Straits Times, 4 Oct 2013
While it’s reassuring to know that one isn’t alone in the sandwich generation of being a parent of young (and not-so-young) children and being a caregiver of parents (and for some, siblings), it may be useful to have the resources one needs or will eventually need, when caregiving needs arise.
As full-time employees, we may be only part-time caregivers, but we are still caregivers in some capacity or other nonetheless. Given that the mental wellbeing of caregivers is important, here’s 10 things you should know about caregiving:
Most caregivers in Singapore are employed. You’re not alone.
According to a 2010 survey, almost 75% of individuals who said they provided regular assistance to friends or family were employed (Singstat Singapore Newsletter, Sept 2011). That means that many caregivers endeavor to manage their time between work, caregiving and others responsibilities at the home.
Caregivers may experience high levels of stress.
Research shows that caregiver stress increases with the physical dependency of the care receipient. As reported in a 2007 NCSS Social Service Journal, research shows that care receipients who have lower scores on Activities of Daily Living tend to have caregivers who experience higher levels of stress (Mehta & Joshi, 2001). Specifically, those who look after care receipients who have dementia tend to have high levels of stress (Kua & Tan, 1997). Don’t be surprised when this turns up as one of the WHO’s 10 Facts About Dementia!
There are many resources available for caregivers. Several local organizations also have online caregiving resources.
These include among others: a fact sheet about dementia (WHO), the 10 early warning signs (Alzheimer’s Association), books on coping with caregiver emotions and stress from the US National Institute of Aging, useful tips and facts for caregivers from the US Family Caregiver Alliance.
Touch Caregivers Support
Touch Caregivers Support provides useful Caregiver Tips, runs courses and talks, and counselling services. Their website also has resources in Chinese.
Caregiving Welfare Association
The Caregiving Welfare Association has an free online counselling service for caregivers providing care to older adults with physical or mental disabilities, where caregivers are residents of Singapore and above 18 years of age.
WINGS organizes regular exercise programmes, talks and workshops, and other activities to support women in ageing successfully.
Council for the Third Age
Caregivers Connect is a community network for caregivers by caregivers through events organised each quarter and on online forums. Other services offered by AWWA include a Caregiving Life Skills Training programme.
The Tsao Foundation has caregiving resources on caring for the frail, looking after your emotional wellbeing and physical health, and financial security, as well as information about TCM and acupuncture.
SG Family Caregivers
Information about caregiver stress is also available at Singapore Family Caregivers’ website.