Restoring Joy in Life
With the impending increase in the proportion of ageing population in Singapore, the issue of caregiving has come to the foreground. Yet for 25-year-old Amanda (not her real name), this is already a familiar territory, as she has begun caregiving for her parents as early as when she was ten.
“I've been dealt a bad hand.”
Amanda’s father developed multiple chronic medical problems during her early childhood years. Accompanying him for appointments became part and parcel of her early life. She has to step into the main caregiving role, as her mother was the main breadwinner then. Despite having a younger brother who is present, Amanda’s parents are very traditional in their mindset, preferring to let their son take a backseat, believing that it is the female’s rightful duty to take on caregiving. When her father gradually developed mobility issues and was often admitted to the hospital due to falls, Amanda spent nights at the hospital to keep him company, while she envied her friends taking vacations overseas with their parents.
“I don't remember when I feel joy in my life.”
The family took another hit when Amanda’s mother developed early onset dementia at the young age of 53. Amanda and her brother took over being the financial pillar for the family. Amanda’s daily life is hampered greatly by this dual caregiving role for her parents, where even when she’s not physically present at home, she cannot completely relax, and is constantly monitoring them at home through CCTV. She has to plan her daily life to accommodate taking care of her parents’ needs, including their meals, and this has also severely impacted her job search, such that she can only consider work that can accommodate her caregiving role, such as working from home and working freelance.
“Nobody my age understands what I go through. I can't share with most of my friends because they wouldn't understand.”
The caregiving stress has also taken a toll on Amanda’s other interpersonal relationships. She finds it increasingly hard to relate to her peers, who seem to be from a different world. She has questioned herself often why she is put in the position she is in, having parents who are sick at such a young age. In contrast, when her peers share difficulties in their relationships with their parents, Amanda finds it hard to empathise, as all these seem minor and trivial in comparison to her own challenges, and she is also slightly alarmed by her own coolness and lack of sympathy towards her friends.
Being constantly saddled with uncertainty in daily life has drastically influenced Amanda’s mindset towards the future. She finds herself unable to plan long term, and does not intend to settle down into a family and have children. With regards to having this outlook which deviates greatly from societal norms, Amanda admits that it is likely a reaction to being a caregiver at a young age. Nonetheless, drawing from her experiences as a young caregiver, she is very insistent on not wanting to put her children through the suffering she has been through and is still going through now.
We are here for you
O’Joy Limited seeks to be that safe space Amanda can enter to unload herself, where she can truly share her frustrations being a young caregiver and challenges with her career and interpersonal relationships with our counsellors, and receive validation and appreciation for her efforts. O’Joy Limited also guides young caregivers like Amanda in turning their attention towards themselves, assisting them in healing from the strain of caregiving, such that this stress does not aggravate further into mental health issues. If you are seeking psychosocial support from caregiving stress, or if you know of anybody who needs such help, feel free to come to us @67490190.
* The names, photos, and some details in this story have been changed to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the client.
O'Joy serves vulnerable persons like Amanda to help them cope with caregiver stress. Such support can often be a long-drawn process. By supporting our Caring for Caregivers fundraising campaign, you can help such caregivers restore joy in life.