Tough, but mentally ill can be caregivers

PHOTO: Tough, but mentally ill can be caregivers

SINGAPORE - When caregivers have mental illness, the additional stress of caring for an elderly person can be tough, said social workers and psychiatrists.

Retired social worker Mani Joseph said that very often, the elderly who need care also find it hard to communicate their needs, which can lead to frustration on both sides.

"For mental patients, managing their emotions can be very difficult so their condition can deteriorate very quickly," he said.

He said that whenever social workers find out about such cases, they would assess if there is additional family support, which can help lighten the caregiver's burden.

"Another way of managing the problem is to work with the Asian Women's Welfare Association, which runs programmes and offers support," he said.

Dr Munidasa Winslow, a psychiatrist at Novena Medical Centre, believes that the situation varies from case to case, depending on how controlled the illness is.

"A lot depends on the paranoia not being directed at the person being cared for," he said.

He said that it is important that the caregivers themselves are given enough attention to remain stable.

This can be done by having someone to coordinate and build a relationship with the person in need, a procedure practised by the Early Psychosis Intervention Programme teams at the Institute of Mental Health.

Said Dr Winslow: "Any caregiver is better than no caregiver, unless the caregiver is dangerous.

"Mentally ill people can still be loving and caring."


Samaritans of Singapore (SOS):1800-2214444
Singapore Association for Mental Health:1800-2837019
Sage Counselling Centre:1800-5555555
Care Corner Mandarin Counselling:1800-3535800


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