SINGAPORE: Amid the release of a study that found that caregivers of people with dementia face a significantly elevated risk of stroke due to chronic stress, concerned caregivers are urging authorities to enhance support systems.

The study’s findings shed light on the heavy burden carried by caregivers, who not only grapple with physical exhaustion but also contend with emotional fatigue.

Caregivers find themselves overwhelmed by the demanding responsibilities associated with caring for family members with dementia. One of the key challenges caregivers face is finding effective ways to alleviate stress and reduce their burdens.

Some resort to utilizing daycare centres for dementia patients, which offer respite time for caregivers, providing a crucial break from their demanding routines. However, the financial implications of this option pose a significant hurdle for some caregivers.

The cost of daycare facilities varies widely, ranging from $700 to $4,000 per month, depending on whether the individual meets subsidy criteria. Unfortunately, this financial burden may render this solution unattainable for many caregivers, further exacerbating their stress and limiting access to essential respite care.

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Experts emphasize the importance of respite time for caregivers, noting that the constant demands and pressures they face throughout the day can lead to chronic stress. The body responds to this stress by releasing stress hormones, resulting in short-term symptoms such as headaches and migraines.

Over the long term, this chronic stress weakens the immune system, making caregivers more susceptible to severe health issues.

Nanyang Technological University’s Center for Excellence in Hospice Research and Education, which has been at the forefront of researching the challenges caregivers face, stressed the need for comprehensive support measures to address caregivers’ mental and physical well-being, recognizing that sustained stress can lead to severe health consequences.

Research findings also highlight the alarming reality that individuals enduring chronic stress for an extended period face a stroke risk that is up to 30 times higher than their counterparts who are not subjected to such stress. This highlights the critical need for immediate intervention and support for caregivers in terms of financial assistance and the provision of accessible respite care options.

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As the voices of caregivers grow louder in their plea for support, the onus is on authorities and healthcare systems to prioritize the well-being of these unsung heroes, recognizing the integral role they play in the lives of those with dementia.