Mum spent her life looking after us, so I wish my siblings would visit her more
Sally*, 45, fell into the role of being her mother’s primary caregiver after the latter suffered a minor stroke six years ago.
“When my mum had her stroke, it was scary. We didn’t know if she would recover, and were concerned with the cost of hiring a helper and entrusting my mum to a stranger. Mum was not for the idea at all, and was emotionally shaken by the whole episode as she was once a very independent and strong lady who didn’t like relying on anyone,” she says.
Sally has four other siblings, three of whom are married with kids. She and her sister, who are both single, live with their mother. Because Sally was in the midst of her studies and in a vocation that allowed her to work from home most days, unlike her siblings, she decided to take up the responsibility of caring for her mother. Today, she works part-time while helping to care for her mother at home, and brings her for quarterly doctor’s visits.
Sally struggles to be financially independent as a caregiver, and worries about her lack of savings. “Mum is 79, and has trouble walking and standing now. I found it hard to do full-time work because I was always worried about leaving her at home for long stretches of time. By the time mum was better enough for me to work full-time, I was already labelled as not being relevant to the job market, as I was competing with younger job seekers.
“I am thankful that Mum has a pension savings. That has helped take a load off her medical bills, but I still have many years of payments ahead. At 45, I have no savings or EPF to count on for my own retirement.”
Sally is grateful her siblings give her mum some allowance, though Sally still bears the cost for doctor’s bills, medication and household expenses.
“Due to my financial situation, Mum looks to my sisters for material needs, and they take Mum out shopping. At times, she makes it seem that this is more important than me being home with her. That hurts my pride sometimes, but I am thankful they can provide something I can’t.
“I’d like to think Mum and I are close and have a special relationship, but I am also the one who bears the most grouses. She turns to me first when she needs to be chauffeured somewhere, but looks to my siblings when she needs money.”
Sally says she would appreciate her siblings visiting their mum more often, and spending more time with her. “They sometimes visit her weekly, but other times, less often. Mum spent her life looking after us, so I wish they could do more in this regard. Mum always shows a positive side to my siblings but when they leave, I get to see the other side.
“Still, I have been able to stand my ground and push some duties to my siblings so I can go out to work more. I think this has been really helpful for me so far, and I am contented.”