Insights of Caregiving


Quality of Life as a Caregiver

Written by:  Foo Soon Leng

My mother has been suffering from dementia since 2003, and was diagnosed by the doctor only in early 2005, at the age of 79.  What I want to share is "quality of life as a caregiver": Is there a downgrading in the quality of my life as the main caregiver of my dementia mother?


My life of pre-2003 was a hectic one.  I was so used to the fast pace of daily life then.  If I reached home at around 9 pm, my mother would ask: "why are you back early tonight?"  Despite the long hours at work, I was feeling bored after a few years in the same job and took up a part time course for a second degree, just to find new life challenges.  As a result, I reached home after 10 pm on most of the days and was working or studying during weekends.   The night before I went on a holiday tour overseas with colleagues, I worked till the early hours of the morning and rushed home just to pick up my luggage and go to the airport.  I always carried my laptop with me while travelling. 


My mother was hospitalized in 2003, in the midst of my examination.  I took leave to be with her in the hospital for two weeks.  After she was discharged, I was fortunate to meet social worker Linda from Alexandra Hospital, who introduced me to the 8-week programme for dementia patients and their caregiver. I took leave one day per week to go through the programme with my mother.  I started to think about the meaning of life and question my way of life.


Three years have passed since then. I have completed my studies.  Today, I live a better life.  My pace of life has slowed down and I now return home early to be with my mother.  I am happier at work where, instead of recognition and rewards, I now look for meaning in my job.  I am more compassionate towards my colleagues and care about their welfare and health.  My life centres around my mother. I accompany her for tours suitable for elderly.  We went to China in the April of 2007, found my mother's childhood home and her long lost sister.  We attended my nephew's graduation and toured Australia in December 2007. 


Taking care of my mother has given more meaning to my life.


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