Caring for the Caregivers

CFS has been conducting basic eldercare training since 2015 to equip caregivers with relevant care knowledge and skills to take care of their elderly loved ones. We organised a follow-up session with 41 caregiver participants who had attended the caregivers training in the period of Dec 2015 to Jan 2017, to understand more deeply the circumstances that caregivers confront in their work.

Two note-worthy trends emerged from the engagement, which are consistent with the findings from the recent study on caregivers by Duke- NUS Medical School, which was reported by The Straits Times on 12 September 2017

First, with Singapore’s rapidly ageing population and longer life expectancy, care recipients are indeed increasing in number as well as in age. In our study, the majority (73%) of the care recipients are at least 80 years old, with oldest care recipient being 97 years old. This means caregivers must expect to take on increasingly heavier responsibilities over an increasingly longer period caring for their loved ones, deep into their golden years. 

The second trend is more worrying. That is, our caregivers themselves are also getting older. More than half (59%) of the caregivers are in the middle age range of 50 to 59 years of age. A good number (12%) of caregivers are themselves elderly i.e. above 65 years old. With Singapore’s retirement age of 62 and reemployment age of 67, caregiving can be a significant stress factor as caregivers face challenges at both ends – taking care of themselves (e.g. personal health, employment security, family) while tending to their elderly loved ones at the same time. Furthermore, a high proportion of the caregivers (90%) and their care recipients (68%) are female, which can exacerbate the challenges on the physical and also financial aspects. 

We do need to provide better care and support to our caregivers to cope with these challenges. And this extends beyond equipping them with up-to-date practical caregiving skills and knowledge, which we must continue to do and do well. What is also required are the training and support avenues that allow caregivers to adopt a positive mindset on the ageing of their loved ones as well as themselves. 

In this regard, one enhancement we can look into is incorporating basic psychology training into the caregiving course, possibly as an advanced module. This can enable caregivers to better empathise and manage needs and emotions of their loved ones. They will also be more understanding of themselves, more aware of their own limitations, and more able to seek help when needed.

Lim Sia Hoe

Executive Director




To read “Post Training Evaluation Research on CFS’s Caregivers Training (2017)” follow this link: http://bit.ly/2w45Ghe

To read Straits Times article “Old and frail, and taking care of an elderly loved one”

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/old-and-frail-and-taking-care-of-an-elderly-loved-one – 12 September 2017

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