Being the family caregiver is not an easy job
"Family caregivers are often the ones who need a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on."
Meet Madam Jayamalini Ariatheven, a mother of 3 boys, two of whom have special needs. When her husband walked out on their marriage 8 years ago, after a life of arguments and domestic violence, she was left to care for her sons.
Feeling helpless, she attempted suicide in 2008, taking about 100 anti-depressant pills and alcohol.
"I wanted to die. I didn't bother about my kids. It was selfish," said the 40-year-old at her four-room HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang.
With motivation from her doctor, social worker and friends, she realised that she had to live for her sons.
"They understood what I was going through. They consoled and counselled me, giving me tips on how to handle my children," said Madam Jayamalini, whose mother had passed away in 2005, and has lost contact with her father and older sister.
Madam Jayamalini's second son, Immanuel Raja Rajendra Verma, 11, had ben diagnosed with global development delay at birth, and her youngest son, Isaiah, 10, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Her eldest son Isaac, 13, has been her pillar of strength. She is currently giving her three schoolboys "a childhood like any other children's", after overcoming her problems with the help of two people - a close friend and her boss.
"JM" has known Madam Jayamalini for 25 years, and has been there for her for heart-to-heart conversations. She visits the family twice a month and sends Madam Jayamalini daily messages on WhatsApp.
"She is my best friend and the three kids are innocent," said 43-year-old JM, who is also their godmother, "I want her to get up, step out of the house, start working and get in touch with society again".
Madam Jayamalini works as a home-based administrator for Dx Marine Services, and earns $1,000 a month. Her employer, Madam Thanaletchemi Ramasamy, understands her struggles. "She can't leave her sons and go out to work," said the 52-year-old director.
"I just want to help by giving her a job."
Click on the next page to find out how help is being given to family caregivers.
Director of AWWA Centre for Caregivers, Manmohan Singh, stresses the importance of such support.
"The first level of support is to talk to people going through the same experience," he said. "Most caregivers are often on the verge of anxiety that almost leads to depression. Some contemplate suicide."
Chairman of the Silver Caregivers Cooperative, Dr Kalyani K. Mehta, said that the caregiver role is often thrust upon a person. It can impact their life in areas such as employment, social life and finance.
"Looking after someone with special needs requires tremendous amount of energy, time and patience," she said. "As they (those with special needs) may not listen to reason, it can be frustrating".
A social worker, who did not wish to be named, said: "Sometimes caregivers have their own reason for not wanting help." Madam Jayamalini said she hardly asks for assistance.
"It's very difficult, very tough. I cry thinking about their future," she said of her children. "Sometimes I feel paiseh (Hokkien for embarrassed) to ask (for help). I don't want to disturb people. They have their own lives and family."
If you know of anyone who is going through a tough time like this Single Mother in Singapore, please do not hesitate to contact Silver Caregivers Co-operative or AWWA Centre for Caregivers.
News Source: Asia One