Caregiver guilt can be harmful to everyone
Symposium to highlight psychological impact, such as guilt, on caregivers
After her father was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in January last year, Miss Masturah Salim, 34, stayed home every day to care for him.
The freelance writer went out only once after her father's diagnosis because she felt guilty not being by his side. But not having time to herself took a toll.
Guilt is one of the most common psychological impacts of caregiving, experts told The New Paper.
To highlight the importance of psychological and social wellbeing, the Agency for Integrated Care and National Council of Social Service are organising the Caregiver Symposium at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Eunos on Saturday.
Ms Eunice Quek, 51, a senior counsellor at Caregivers Alliance, said: "Guilt is caused by performance anxiety, where caregivers feel they are not doing enough for loved ones.
"If not properly dealt with, caregiver guilt can lead to depression, anger, poor health and, in extreme cases, the caregiver may even take it out on the patient or become suicidal."
Mr Kelvin Lee, 49, manager of Touch Caregivers Support (TCG), said: "Guilt stops caregivers from receiving help and rest as they feel it is selfish to do so. They may become disconnected with the world."
Caregives also suffer anxiety, stress and burnout.
Mr Lee said the TCG caregiver hotline receives 250 calls a month on average from stressed-out caregivers.
Miss Masturah, whose father died in March, said: "My life revolved around my dad and it was overwhelming. I realised I needed to care for myself too."
Social worker Liau Lian Lee, 33, from the Caregiving Welfare Association (CWA), told TNP self-care includes attending support groups, staying physically active and enlisting professional care services.
Miss Masturah finally hired home-care nurses who helped look after her bedridden father. She also read books to relax.
After her father died, she volunteered with the CWA to share her experience.
She said: "I hope my experience can encourage other caregivers and remind them to take care of themselves."