Trigger Warning: Mentions topic on suicide. If you do not feel comfortable reading this blog, check out other blogs we have.
Caring for our elderly loved ones can be a rewarding experience, but it’s not without its challenges. In Singapore, where the elderly population is on the rise, caregivers are facing a growing concern – the emotional well-being of their senior family members. Recent statistics reveal a troubling trend: a significant increase in suicide rates among the elderly. This blog sheds light on the struggles caregivers face when dealing with suicidal elderly individuals and offers insights on how to address this pressing issue.
The Silent Struggle: Suicidal Elderly and Their Caregivers
Suicide is a complex issue, and when it affects the elderly, it becomes even more nuanced. The article shared the startling fact that individuals aged 70 to 79 witnessed a 60% increase in suicide deaths compared to the previous year. It’s a stark reminder that emotional distress knows no age boundaries. But what about the caregivers?
The Caregiver’s Dilemma:
Caregivers often find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. They witness the suffering of their senior family members, yet they may not always know how to respond. The elderly’s emotional struggles can be masked by stoicism or reluctance to share their feelings. This silence can be deafening for caregivers.
The Role of Caregivers:
Caregivers play a vital role in the lives of their elderly loved ones. They offer companionship, physical care, and emotional support. But the burden can take its toll. The article highlights that one of the main barriers preventing people from seeking help is the stigma associated with mental health issues. Caregivers, therefore, need to be equipped with the skills to spot signs of distress.
Understanding the Signs:
Caregivers, like Lam Li Min from Daughters of Tomorrow, are often the first responders. They need to understand the signs of emotional distress in their senior family members. Simple changes in behaviour or expression can signal deeper struggles. It’s about being present and letting them know that you’re a safe person to confide in.
Seeking Professional Help:
Sometimes, the burden becomes overwhelming, and caregivers may feel out of their depth. In such cases, it’s crucial to seek professional help. The Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) provides a hotline dedicated to those with suicidal thoughts. They received 57,000 phone calls seeking help last year alone. Caregivers must know that they don’t have to go through this journey alone.
While the focus is often on the elderly, caregivers also need support. SOS recognizes the need for skills-based volunteers in areas like fundraising, human resources, and finance. These volunteers can indirectly assist caregivers by ensuring that the necessary resources and assistance are available when needed.
Caring for suicidal elderly individuals is an emotional and challenging task. Caregivers must be vigilant, empathetic, and well-equipped to handle the unique needs of their senior family members. Singaporean organizations like SOS and Daughters of Tomorrow are taking steps to provide support and resources to both caregivers and those in distress.
Remember, suicide is everybody’s business, and together, we can make a difference in the lives of our elderly loved ones and those who care for them.
Resources for Help:
- Samaritans of Singapore Hotline: 1767
- Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline: 6389 2222
- Singapore Association for Mental Health Helpline: 1800 283 7019
- If someone you know is at immediate risk, call 24-hour emergency medical services.
At SG Assist, we are dedicated to supporting caregivers and your loved ones. From providing essential resources to connecting caregivers with professional care services, we are here for you every step of the way. Visit our websites at SG Assist and CareConnect, and our Caregiver Resource Centre, or sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on the latest developments and caregiver support initiatives. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those we care for.
Story was adapted from Channel News Asia, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/suicide-numbers-highest-two-decades-social-services-agencies-samaritans-calls-more-volunteers-3764061