Caring for a loved one with dementia can be a journey filled with both love and challenges. In Singapore, where the ageing population is rapidly increasing, the number of individuals living with dementia is on the rise. This article sheds light on the struggles faced by caregivers, drawing inspiration from the story of Mr. Rodney Paglar and his wife, Ms. Jacinta Conceicao.
The Silent Onset of Dementia
Dementia can creep up stealthily, affecting one’s ability to perform daily activities. Mr. Paglar’s young-onset dementia diagnosis at the age of 59 was a shock. His memory declined, and he needed assistance with basic tasks. Dementia not only robs seniors of their memories but also leads to mood and behavioural changes, creating an emotional rollercoaster for caregivers.
The Caregiver’s Burden
In the role of a caregiver, Ms. Conceicao faced immense challenges. She had to think for two people, and it became mentally exhausting. Caregivers often face emotional and mental stress, managing the changing behaviour of their loved ones while witnessing their gradual decline. In Singapore, a staggering 74% of dementia caregivers admit feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities.
According to the survey conducted by Milieu Insight and Dementia Singapore, dementia caregiving also poses financial strains on families. The cost of medical care, specialised assistance, and home modifications can be substantial. It is not uncommon for caregivers to sacrifice their careers or reduce working hours to provide care.
The Impact of Dementia on Seniors
Dementia doesn’t just affect the diagnosed individuals; it touches the lives of their caregivers profoundly. In Singapore, approximately 1 in 10 seniors aged 60 and above has dementia. With the ageing population, this number is expected to rise significantly in the coming years. The burden of caregiving is, therefore, an issue that must be addressed.
Dementia’s early signs can vary, but they typically include memory issues, especially with recent events, growing confusion, difficulty concentrating, changes in personality or behaviour, feeling apathetic or withdrawn, and struggling with everyday tasks. It’s common for people not to realise that these symptoms indicate a problem, mistakenly attributing them to ageing. Sometimes, these signs develop slowly and go unnoticed for a while, and some individuals may even deny that anything is wrong.
Overcoming the Challenges
Despite the hardships, caregivers like Ms. Conceicao find strength in support networks and respite programs. These programs offer a much-needed break and a sense of community. It is essential for caregivers to seek help and share their experiences with others who understand their struggles.
Support in Singapore
In Singapore, various organisations provide assistance and resources to dementia caregivers. Dementia Singapore specialises in dementia care, support, and advocacy. Caregivers can access support groups, counselling, and educational resources, all of which can help alleviate the emotional and mental toll of caregiving.
Caring for a loved one with dementia in Singapore presents unique challenges, as exemplified by the journey of Mr. Paglar and Ms. Conceicao. The rising number of seniors with dementia emphasises the need for better support and resources for caregivers. While the path may be challenging, caregivers are not alone, and help is available in the form of organisations like Dementia Singapore. By seeking assistance and sharing their experiences, caregivers can navigate this difficult journey with love and resilience.
At SG Assist, we understand that caregiving can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. That’s why we provide resources and support for seniors, people with disabilities, and caregivers alike. Whether you’re in need of care services or looking to volunteer at our Caregiver Resource Centre, we’re here to help you make a difference in the lives of others. Visit our websites at SG Assist and CareConnect or sign up for our newsletter here today to learn more.
Story was adapted from The Straits Times, https://www.straitstimes.com/life/he-doesn-t-remember-her-name-the-toll-on-the-caregiver-when-dementia-steals-memories