Every time a patient with a caregiver comes in for a consultation, Dr Lim Si Ching always directs her attention to the caregiver first.

"How are you doing?" she would ask.

The geriatrician at Changi General Hospital (CGH) explained that it is because a patient's well-being is linked to the caregiver's.

"If the caregiver lacks information or the ability, she'll often be screaming at the patient. In such cases, I usually have to prescribe the patient a lot of medicine to break the cycle.

"At the end of the day, more medicine does more harm than good. So we have to educate and support the caregivers before they burn out," said Dr Lim.

But the caregiving journey is not all dreary and stressful.

"Look at Davina. Fantastic things can come out of it, too," Dr Lim said.

"Throughout the caregiving journey, she discovered herself and saw her mum in a new light.

"And she hopes to work in this industry one day and be a caregiver for other dementia patients. I think that's something we should encourage."

The trick to not burning out is to take time off to recharge.

"Without that break, the caregiver will feel like a second priority and resentment will build up," Dr Lim explained.

More tips on caring for elderly dementia patients will be shared at a public forum at CGH tomorrow.

WHEN: Tomorrow, 9am to noon

WHERE: Changi General Hospital

Register through e-mail at or by call 6850-2737/6850-1744