Why Did She Put Her Shoes In The Fridge?
Today I ask you to pay good attention to this write up, because it could be one of us in the near future. Most of us would live alone, if not lucky enough to find a caring partner to marry or live with, or even family and friends in the later stages of their life.
This is a story of my mother, who once was a socialite, an ex air hostess and a teacher at later stages. She grew up in Mumbai, had the looks and charms of a young Manglorean, Child model during her school days, had many friends growing up, married my dad, gave birth to us —–
Yes, moms in her last stages of Alzheimer’s, sadly the condition is degenerative and no matter how advanced medically we are, research and studies still have to find a way to help patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
When memory fails
It happened three years back after a brain stroke in 2009, when I realized mom’s behavior and physical capabilities changing. Dad and I didn’t seem to look into it much in the beginning, since assumption was that age catches up with all.
One morning as she woke up, and I was back from my jog, instead of keeping the milk in the fridge, she put her shoes in there. I was furious at this act and must I say was an idiot for screaming at her, without realizing she needed help.
Days and weeks passed by, and she was diagnosed with early stages of ear and throat cancer. A year into that went towards recovery, which was painful for her, and she underwent radio and chemo. She lost her hair and matters went worse, she started getting depressed, and her thyroid acted up, bringing her to an all time low weight of 28 kilos in three months; shocking and distressing it was for dad and me to see her go through that.
Thanks to the doctors, her thyroid now has improved, but my mum remembers nothing or very rarely me. The only one I guess she remembers is my dog – Tubby. She sits, walks and moves around the house the whole day asking for my dad, even though he is right in front of her.
Don’t ignore the signs
Last year is when I noticed that mums Alzheimer’s got the better of her. It was when she slipped and fractured her ankle and hand, and couldn’t move around as she would. Now I had a lady with the mindset of a three year old, she needed to be fed, cleaned and looked after.
Dad and I made arrangements, but somehow the nurse we wanted to have passed away. We decided to do this on our own. Mom for dad and me is a child now, I have to sing a song to her to sleep, or maybe play ‘where’s the birdie’, while feeding her.
Even if I have to answer natures call or have a shower, I leave my washroom door unlocked but slightly shut, so that she knows I am around.
Sleep for them is very unpredictable, sometimes they sleep and sometimes they don’t, their brain cells cannot reciprocate the way we do. Yes, it’s a fact that they lose short term memory, but remember stuff from their early childhood days till their teens, that’s what I have seen.
Whats the connection?
You maybe wondering why I write this for you to read, its not to tell you to shower your sympathies on me. It is in fact for the many of us folks, who would be living alone when time comes in the white and grey haired days.
I read once that there special clinics and homes for those who suffer from Alzheimers, but I wonder if they have adequate facilities for such needs, especially for those who suffer from memory loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s?
Help Age India has a cell of trained and certified caregivers, but it isn’t widespread across the nation, and one has to leave their loved ones behind at their center, only visits thereafter. I don’t want that for my mum, and I am sure you would agree on the same.
So are we equipped enough to handle such cases, for our brothers and sisters, should they have to face this in future? Some of us may have helped family members who went through this in the past, some may not even know about the “burning out” which family members go through, the ones who care for the loved one who goes through this.
I wish no one ever suffers the way my mom is, because Alzheimer’s takes over the whole family, not as an ailment, but as stress which burns out the caregivers, makes them feeble mentally and guilt laden till the patient passes away, sometimes in their sleep.
I hope my mom’s story makes you realize that life is short, too short to hold grudges. And I also hope it makes everyone understand that “mental diseases” can happen to anyone, needless to say in a country like ours, people with mental disorders aren’t treated with respect and the society looks down upon them, as though they were illegal immigrants.
To know more about what Alzheimer’s can do to you, please check this youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw6m90UvQKs of a Documentary “BURDEN OF LOVE” by Brahmanand Singh on Alzheimer’s Disease in India.
That’s all I have to say now, Love and peace to all.
Are you more aware of Alzheimer’s and Dementia now?
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