Tuesday 25 September 2012

Caregivers get 'care for yourself too' tips

By Jessica Lim, The Straits Times, 24 Sep 2012

BE REALISTIC, do not try to do everything yourself. Go out with your friends, and remember: You're doing a good job.

These are some tips in a resource pack for caregivers of dementia patients, put together by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) in a new campaign.

About 20,000 packs will be distributed to caregivers at hospitals, clinics and through community outreach programmes.

Launched yesterday, the Living Together campaign includes an online e-learning course, in which caregivers can gauge their stress levels. An exhibition on how to make a home safer for patients will also be put up.

"It's not enough to teach caregivers how to be good caregivers," said HPB's chief executive officer Ang Hak Seng. "We also need to ensure they have proper rest and resources to deal with the physical strain and emotional stress."

A National Health Survey in 2010 indicated that about 20 per cent of caregivers spend more than 12 hours daily attending to persons with chronic medical conditions such as dementia.

There are now about 22,000 people with dementia in Singapore. By 2030, that number is expected to rise to 80,000.

Caregiver M. Kaarvari, whose 85-year-old mother has dementia, said that she started to see warning signs in 1993.

"I saw her doing things like mixing coffee and tea," said the 55-year-old. "I think caregivers should get involved in the campaign. Knowledge changed everything for me."

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who was guest of honour at the launch at Toa Payoh HDB Hub yesterday, said that the number of people with dementia is expected to increase with a rapidly ageing population.

"It is therefore important that we ensure that those suffering from dementia can continue to live with dignity and grace in their own homes or communities, looked after by people who know and love them," he said.

On a separate matter, Mr Gan declined to comment about a Sunday Times report that said the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health had urged the Health Ministry to relook the Singapore Medical Council's (SMC) processes.

Last Monday, the Court of Appeal had accused the SMC of being biased and slipshod in its inquiry against aesthetics practitioner Low Chai Ling.

The SMC, which regulates the medical profession here, is a statutory board under the Ministry of Health (MOH).

MOH later issued a brief statement about the case. "The ministry has noted the court's decision. As it has been recently released, the SMC will need time to study it and will share its response in due course," MOH said.

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