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'I feel like I have 3 babies'

Housewife looks after mother with dementia and Parkinson's, along with grandchildren

Mrs Emily Ng may have two grown children, but she still feels like she is responsible for three babies.

That is because she babysits her two young grandsons on weekday afternoons while their parents work, and is the primary caregiver for her elderly mother, who has dementia and Parkinson's disease.

Her 88-year-old mother is bedridden and has difficulty swallowing food.

She also needs to have her diaper changed every other hour, or she could come down with Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and rashes.

"I'd be lying if I said it was easy," said the housewife.

Mrs Ng's mother was diagnosed with dementia three years ago, and she requires as much, if not more care than the young children.

Feeding aside, Mrs Ng also needs to regularly change her mother's position in bed. Otherwise, she could develop stiff shoulders and bedsores.

Mrs Ng recalls the initial signs of dementia and symptoms her mother showed three years ago.

"She kept forgetting things, and didn't sleep at night. She was paranoid strangers would come into the house at night," said the 61-year-old.

Mrs Ng then took her mother to a general practitioner to get sleeping pills. After a few more visits, the doctor recommended that the elderly woman see a specialist.

She was then diagnosed with dementia.

Since then, Mrs Ng has meticulously attended to all of her mother's needs. Because her mother has problems swallowing food, Mrs Ng blends all her meals before feeding her.

"At first we had to do tube feeding because the food was not being swallowed. But she kept pulling out the tubes and the nurse kept having to come back to put it in."

Besides the physical and emotional stress on the Ng family, there is also financial stress.

Her mother is Malaysian, meaning her treatment in Singapore is not subsidised.

Mrs Ng's brother and sister, who live in Malaysia, have suggested sending their mother to a nursing home in Johor, but Mrs Ng is against it.

Mrs Ng, a Singaporean, hardly leaves the house and spends less time with her retired husband.

"I have given up a lot of things, but at least I will have no regrets when (my mother) is no longer around. I'll know I did my best," said Mrs Ng.

She recalled the sacrifices her own mother made while raising her and her siblings.

PROMISE

"When I was sick, I just needed to call my mother and she would fly down from Malaysia to take care of my kids," she said.

She also made a promise to her late father to take care of her mother. He died last year.

Said Mrs Ng: "I promised my father I would take care of her, so I have to do it. This is my duty. I don't blame anybody. It's not like my mother wants to be like this."

Mrs Ng has a son and a daughter, who each have sons 18 months and four years old respectively.

Her daughter, who wanted to be known only as Ms Ng, 34, admires her mother's dedication.

She said: "Mum has gone over and beyond what is expected of a daughter. Her energy, physically and emotionally, is immeasurable.

"I offered to send my son to a daycare centre but she always says 'family sticks together'. She believes that either the parents or grandparents must raise the children.

"It makes me admire her even more."

She has gone over and beyond what is expected of a daughter. Her energy physically and emotionally is immeas-urable.

- Mrs Emily Ng's daughter, Ms Ng