“I first knew I desperately needed help when mum’s dementia behaviour escalated to her frequently threatening to end her life when her wants were not met back in 2020.
The process of seeking help was not easy, but I did not give up, and learnt to have patience to keep reaching out. Initially, I tried to enrol mum in Dementia Day Care. It was a good respite for me in the day as I could take time to run errands, attend to work, and volunteer for food distribution – doing little tasks that I enjoy. However, mum eventually started to reject Day Care, complaining about it being “too cold”.
A year after enrolling into Day Care, mum experienced vertigo which caused her temper tantrums to worsen to the point that the Day Care could not manage her at the centre; I had no choice but to bring her back home, and care for her 24/7 on my own.
I felt immense pressure as I had to constantly watch over mum, who also has Parkinson’s disease, as I was afraid of her falling. Mum would also frequently call for me to attend to her needs and would get agitated when I could not respond to her as quickly as she wanted. While I coped by talking to friends, seeking professional help, and slowly learnt to adapt to mum’s behaviours by taking her out for walks which she enjoys and distracting her, I found myself increasingly unable to make time to take care of my own needs. It got to the point that I kept missing and postponing my own medical appointments, including essential ones for my cancer, asthma, and increasingly swollen ankles from caregiving.
After years of tumultuous caregiving, I made a difficult decision to apply for a dementia nursing home for my mum. On one hand, I was worried about the toll years of caregiving had taken on my own deteriorating health. On the other hand, I was immensely afraid about mum’s health taking a toll after admitting into a nursing home.
After months of difficult deliberation and help-seeking process, mum has recently been enrolled into a nursing home. While I am relieved mum has been adapting well to the nursing home thus far, I still carry with me heavy feelings of guilt and worries about her. I can’t help but feel sad sometimes thinking about whether I could bring mum back home again. While I know mum is taken care of by professional nurses in the nursing home, I find myself not allowing myself to enjoy myself ‘too much’ as I think about mum being away from home. I am learning to adapt to this new caregiving role, and I’m grateful that I can visit mum weekly in the nursing home. I hope that I can bring her favourite food, and I hope that whenever I visit mum at the home, she knows I have always been doing my very best to care for her.”
– Priscilla, 67, Caregiver for Mdm Lim (mother), 87, who has dementia