I refer to the recent discussion on maids taking on caregiving duties (Domestic workers caring for the elderly overworked, lack support in Singapore: Report, ST Online, Nov 11; Time to see and value caregiving as a profession; and Maids cannot be trained to be superhumans, both Nov 14).
Not all elderly people are bedridden or so incapacitated that they need professional caregivers. Some just need an extra pair of hands to help out with domestic chores which they may find demanding.
For instance, when my family first hired a maid for my aged parents, it was to relieve them of domestic chores. However, over six or seven years, their health deteriorated to the extent that we considered getting one more maid or professional caregivers.
However, by then, both parents had become attached to the maid. The maid, too, was very attached to them.
Switching from maid to professional caregiver was thus not as easy as we expected.
Besides, a live-in trained caregiver's main responsibility is the well-being of the aged person in her care. General household chores may be outside her job scope.
A household with two aged parents or grandparents requiring two caregivers and probably a live-in maid for household chores might find the costs prohibitive. Not to mention providing sufficient, comfortable rest areas or bedrooms for them.
My siblings and I also considered the option of nursing homes, but such homes can also be costly. And the elderly may also wish to live and die at home.
My conclusion, therefore, is that many factors have to be considered in planning for the care of one's elderly relatives, and while employing a maid may not be the best way to meet their needs, it may be the most viable one, given one's constraints.
What is perhaps more important is to provide adequate support for the maid, in terms of asking about her well-being and not just that of the old folks, and also being easily contactable in case of emergency, to reduce the maid's stress in what is a highly stressful and demanding job.
Low Siew Hua