HPB launches self-care tools to help caregivers of elderly cope

HPB launches self-care tools to help caregivers of elderly cope

SINGAPORE - To address the emotional and social stresses of caring for elderly loved ones with dementia, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) is equipping caregivers with a set of self-help solutions.

According to a study, caregivers looking after elderly dementia patients often struggle with poor emotional health themselves.

Caregiver burnout may be due to a lack of respite from the care-giving routine.

A 2010 survey showed that about 20 per cent of caregivers spend more than 12 hours a day attending to people with chronic medical conditions. Three quarters of caregivers also hold jobs.

Caregiver depression may set in if they feel hopeless, isolated and resentful at the perceived lack of support from other family members and friends, as well as the community, HPB said.

To alleviate these issues, HPB's Dementia Public Education Plan this year will focus on helping caregivers enhance their own coping mechanisms and access available sources of support.

HPB has developed a resource pack with the help of clinicians, mental health professionals and experienced caregivers.

This resource pack helps to ease beginners into their caregiver roles by providing practical tips and pointing them to sources of aid such as support groups, counselling, caregiver workshops and training grants.

HPB aims to distribute 20,000 sets of the pack by 2013.

HPB is also offering an e-learning course to help long-term caregivers manage their stress levels and strengthen their coping mechanisms.

Number of dementia patients expected to rise

Number of dementia patients expected to rise

There are about 22,000 people with dementia in Singapore, and this number is expected to rise to 80,000 by 2030.

About half of the 220,000 family caregivers here are caring for their parents, and a number can't afford to give up their full-time jobs - which means they have little time for rest or social activities, HPB said.

Health Minister Mr Gan Kim Yong said it is important to provide support so that people suffering from dementia can continue to live with dignity and grace in their own homes, looked after by people who know and love them.

"It is not enough to teach caregivers how to be good caregivers; we also need to ensure they have the proper rest and resources to deal with the physical strain and emotional stress that comes from the daily routine of caring for someone with dementia," said Mr Ang Hak Seng, Chief Executive Officer of HPB.

HPB is also collaborating with the National Arts Council (NAC) to develop and implement an arts project for seniors. This is to help the elderly maintain their mental and physical well-being by engaging in creative expression and social interaction.

The Arts for Mental Well-being initiative aims to reach all 87 constituencies by 2015.

yamadak@sph.com.sg

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