The Uneasy Road of Family Caregivers

More than 700,000 people in Taiwan are disabled, functionally impaired, or afflicted with dementia. Over half of them are cared for at home. A caregiver’s role can be challenging, especially if they are the sole or primary caregiver. Such people need support and time off to get through the toughest days.

Lin Ming-ji, his mother’s principal caregiver, pushes her wheelchair on a walk near their home. Yan Lin-zhao

An Older Person Taking Care of an Even Older Person

Lin Ming-ji, 68, has taken care of his 93-year-old bedridden mother for three years. At night, he sleeps in her room to keep an eye on her. Every morning when they wake up, his first order of business is to help her defecate. When it’s time to eat, he grinds her food before feeding it to her, spoonful by spoonful. On nice days, he takes her out for some sun. He also takes her out with him when he volunteers. He takes good care of her, and in so doing he honors the person who gave him life and who cared for him when he was young.

Taiwan’s population is rapidly aging. According to projections from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of persons needing long-term care on the island may top a million by 2026. Of these, over 300,000 will be elderly and enfeebled. Their caregivers are likely to be their elderly spouses or their children, who are themselves advancing in years.

Photos by Yan Lin-zhao

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