Caregiving and being ‘Caregiven’

I refer to an earlier post on https://chenweilun2014.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/comment-can-we-retire-in-singapore-christopher-tan/.

Since then, I had spoken to a young parent; and a child, who together with a few other siblings, took care of their parent until the parent’s death. The former aims to reduce the financial demands on their offspring when their children needs to take care of them. The latter pointed out the importance of the assets bequeathed to them. A property was sold. The income from the sale was used to finance a team (yes, a team of six in total – 3 children and 3 domestic workers), to finance approximately 7 years of caregiving. The parent being of large size and weight.

So perhaps we should all aim to achieve a weight that just above ‘Underweight’? Apart from obesity being linked to disease, when we are elderly and need to be cared for, we are pre-empting backache in our caregivers. If the caregiver(s) is/are unable to support our weight, we might all end up falling together. For the senior citizen, this might mean fractures and takes us that much closer to death. Psychologically, once an elderly person falls, he or she may fear falling and this leads to a vicious cycle.

As a future caregiver, my friend thought aloud over lunch that he should head to the gym and build up his muscles. This is because he is the only child and one who hopes to physically care for his parents. I opined also of a shared responsibility system where (trusted and) professional caregivers (those trained in nursing for instance) come for a few days of the week while the children take care of the parent(s) for the rest. (My friend likewise mentioned that having a nursing home right beside the house is a good thing.) There are also organisations like private nursing homes who provide short term respite care such that caregivers can have a break.

For those who want to be prepared, allow me to suggest that you speak with those that have gone through similar experiences. For example, I have a friend whose idea and method helped her mother’s wound heal. (The elderly have weaker blond circulation and have skin more prone to bed sores/ulcers. Especially for bed bound parents, ensuring that they are turned and/or having an airbed would help prevent those dreaded wounds.)

You may of course head in for courses by recognised training providers. Finally, I commend the book 长者照顾护理全图解 by 王天明. (Again, there are 42 copies held by the Singapore National Library Board.)  It is big on pictures and enables us to learning caregiving. It is rather comprehensive addressing both carers and the elderly holistically. To give a sample, aging seems to make people self centred, forceful, refusing to accept new methods etc. Concomitantly, the elderly tends towards pessimism (do you recall them say – old already, no more use?), naggy, more irresponsible, and more reliant on others etc. (These are broadstrokes nonetheless, not all the elderly behave as described…) It is similarly important to speak more slowly and exercise greater patience. Understanding the psyches and physical weakening would assist us in being prepared.

May grace, mercy and love be extended to all of us – especially when we are old…

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