Forum: Caregivers can tap home-based support for dementia

We refer to Ms Lily Lee's letter, "Putting mum in a nursing home will be the last resort" (Aug 16).

At Dementia Singapore, we empathise deeply with Ms Lee. Indeed, we believe seniors must be given every opportunity to age in place. Placing our loved ones in a nursing home must be the last resort. However, caring for one's loved ones with dementia at home can be challenging, especially if their condition progresses with increasing behavioural changes.

Caregivers may wish to consider home-based interventions. At Dementia Singapore, our Home Support Team supports caregivers and their loved ones with dementia through managing the presenting behaviours.

In addition, our team also supports caregivers through psycho-education, counselling, emotional support, and relevant service linkages and referrals.

This can be extended to foreign domestic workers, who are the main caregivers of persons living with dementia, yet who often might not receive relevant or adequate dementia knowledge and emotional support, even with the employers' best endeavours.

The role of caregiving can be dynamic, with the ever-changing needs of the care recipient and even the caregiver. A stabilised care arrangement can be disrupted because of unexpected changes - such as in the case of Ms Lee whose helper left home suddenly.

During such times, caregivers can consider home personal care services which will see care professionals coming to the home to provide support or sending the senior to a daycare centre which is able to care for persons with dementia. This will give caregivers some respite and enable them to better cope without a helper.

Employers may also consider sending their helpers for training.

Dementia Singapore's foreign domestic worker training sessions are designed to equip them with practical knowledge and skills in dementia care.

With better knowledge and understanding of the person whom they are caring for, it might help to reduce misunderstandings between the helper and the care recipient, and enhance the helper's skills and confidence to better care for them.

Caregivers can visit Dementia Singapore's website www.dementia.org.sg or call our Dementia Helpline on 6377-0700 to find out about the programmes and services available.

Alternatively, they can also visit Agency for Integrated Care's website www.aic.sg or call its helpline on 1800-650-6060 for support.

Jason Foo

CEO, Dementia Singapore