Today

For Better for Worse, for Richer for Poorer, in Sickness and in Health, to Love and to Cherish, till Death Do Us Part: The Touching Story of Mr Poh Khuat, 76, who is Caring for his Wife living with Dementia.

Mr Poh Khuat, 76, is sole caregiver to his wife of more than 40 years, Mdm Kang, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease more than 9 years back. Although Mr Poh was himself recently diagnosed with Stage 2 Lung Cancer, he remains single-minded in his desire to personally care for his wife, bouncing back into action within a short time after undergoing chemotherapy himself. The couple have 3 daughters and 1 son who do not live with them.

Despite his wife’s inability to walk or to recognise him since 2016, Mr Poh has taken this setback in his stride as he accepts the loss of function was inevitable. He remains stoic and committed to ensuring that Mdm Kang knows that she is being cared for and loved by him. Despite having hurt himself before when lifting her, he insists on personally caring for Mdm Kang as long as he is physically able, deferring suggestions to admit his wife into a nursing home.

Mr Poh has been outgoing and resourceful in seeking ways to keep his wife socially engaged. The couple have attended Memories Café at the Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) regularly since it was initiated in 2016. He took pains to learn how to record video clips on his mobile phone in order to help Mdm Kang reminisce the activities she enjoyed at Memories Café. Mr Poh’s devotion to Mdm Kang and his gentle manner with others has touched fellow caregivers, volunteers and staff at ADA as well. They have been inspired by his patient and loving manner with his wife, as well as his generosity of spirit to engage other seniors with Alzheimer’s at the ADA Memories Café sessions.

Mr Poh’s resilience and patience in the face of Mdm Kang’s challenging behaviours stems from his full acceptance of her deteriorating condition which he realises is not reversible. Despite the exhaustion experienced in cleaning up after her and her challenging behaviour, Mr Poh seldom raises his voice or gets upset with his beloved wife. He notes pointedly that staying calm, focused and persevering is part and parcel of being a caregiver – and to get on to do what needs to be done.

“I Will Not Let Anyone Hurt My Mom!”: A Filial Son, Ang Beng Hui Alex, 39, who Embarked on a Caregiving Journey for His Mother since He was 14 Years Old.

Mr Ang Beng Hui, 39, was attending kindergarten when his mother’s first bout of aggressive behaviour triggered by schizophrenia occurred. Concerned for his children’s safety, Beng Hui’s father arranged for Beng Hui and his two younger sisters to be brought up by their paternal grandparents.

At the age of 14, Beng Hui’s father started to prepare his son to assume the role of primary caregiver. He did so by learning from his father and reading widely on schizophrenia. Beng Hui became his mother’s sole caregiver after his father’s passing in 2014. His two younger sisters, who have their own families, contribute by providing financial support as they have difficulties handling Mrs Ang’s challenging behaviour.

Beng Hui matured faster than most teenagers, balancing studies while caring for his mother. He fastidiously ensured she never missed her doctor’s appointments and took the prescribed medications regularly. Drawing support from nurses, doctors and social workers at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Beng Hui has become Mrs Ang’s protector. When neighbours reported her to the police for aggressive behaviour, he explained her condition to them and the police, taking the opportunity to educate them on mental illness.

Today, Beng Hui is an active participant in caregiver-related workshops at IMH focusing on mental health issues. He hopes the public would understand that one’s mental condition may trigger difficult behaviour in persons with mental illness, but that this may not be so if the mental illness is well managed. When discussing long-term plans with IMH for Mrs Ang in 2013, despite nursing home placement being proposed as an option, Beng Hui chose to keep his mother at home. He engaged a domestic helper and gradually imparted his knowledge and skills to her, so she would be able to manage Mrs Ang’s behaviour.