Aware study: Family caregivers lose 63% of income, need more help
Six days of paid eldercare leave among suggestions to improve support
She had put her life and career on hold to care for her 86-year-old mother, who has dementia.
But she soon found she could not afford it, and they have had to tap into her mother's savings.
Ms Kris Foo, 52, a self-employed design consultant, told The New Paper that to provide her mother with adequate care, she took a more than 80 per cent cut to her income.
In 2014, Ms Foo gave up her office in Tanjong Pagar and moved her business home so that she could spend more time with her mother, who needs her at all hours of the day. She was soon isolated from her friends, peers and even her older sister.
Ms Foo said: "I lost my network of clients, my earnings. I felt lost. I had become home-bound. I was also ageing and started to fear for my future. I had no retirement adequacy, no one to lean on (in old age)."
Many caregivers are in a similar position as Ms Foo, according to Association of Women for Action and Research's (Aware) latest research project, Make Care Count.
The group said based on the 22 family caregivers they spoke to, the average loss in income a year for the caregiver, who is often female, is 63 per cent because of the change in work situation.
They also experience an average annual loss in Central Provident Fund contribution of about $7,000, due to the need to step away from the workforce to care for ageing family members.
At a press conference held at its Dover centre yesterday, Aware unveiled results from the study and a set of policy suggestions to the authorities.
Head of advocacy and research Shailey Hingorani said while there are structures in place, they are inadequate to meet the needs of such caregivers.
To begin with, eldercare services such as daycare services and unpaid leave or flexible work options remain under-utilised.
She said reasons for low take-up rates include a lack of trust in such care services or lack of information on what types of services are available.
Ms Hingorani said many are reluctant to take unpaid leave or make use of flexi-work arrangements for fear it will affect their career progression or result in poor evaluations by superiors.
As such, the suggestions by Aware seek to mitigate these issues, with policies such as a more rigorous and transparent regulation and licensing of provide providers of eldercare, six days of paid eldercare leave and a caregivers support grant.
Ms Anthea Ong, Nominated MP, who has spoken up on the issue in Parliament before, said that given the fact that 75,000 women are out of the workforce because of caregiving , such policy changes are important.
Ms Ong said: "The psychosocial impact of caregiving on caregiver and also Singapore is just, if not even more important, given that human capital is what makes our economy.
"Mental well-being has a direct impact on productivity and innovation."