Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Raymond's letter to the Press: Elder Abuse: Caregivers need compassion and support

My letter to the New Paper was published today, Wednesday, 4th November 2009, page 21

I refer to the article, “Most abuse cases by victims' children” (The New Paper, 22 Oct).

I am glad that Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishan has raised the issue of elder abuse, as it is becoming a worrying trend here in Singapore.

Taking care of the mentally ill and those with multiple chronic illnesses is extremely stressful, and can bring out the best or the worse in people.

Family conflicts are bound to set in when relatives refuse to share in caregiving. I am trapped in this unfortunate circumstance.

As a sole caregiver to my wife who has schizophrenia, arthritis and three other chronic illnesses, I have suffered burnout countless times. My 34-year journey in caring for my wife all by myself is now affecting my health and I am experiencing severe nerve and eye problems.

It is a daily routine for me to prepare 41 tablets for my wife's multiple illnesses. I also have to do all the household chores. Who will see to my wife's needs if my health suffers?

The strain of bringing my wife for up to four medical appointments in a month is wearing me out. I have never had any sort of respite.

The harsh reality is that when you are looking after a family member with a serious mental disorder such as schizophrenia, you all all alone in this world.

I have to be with my wife 24 hours of the day because her arthritis condition puts her at risk of falling.

It is also very costly for me to look after her with no support.

In the UK I am told that people in our predicament get a lot of support. Not only is a caregiver allowance given, it seems the authorities even allow the caregivers to enjoy a two-week holiday whilst their sick loved ones are also put up at a holiday home.

I appeal to the Government to understand our plight and provide us with the support that we so badly need.

Caregivers do not need sympathy and pity. What they need is compassion and support.


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