The onset of Alzheimer’s
Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is life changing for the person with the disease, as well as their family and friends. BK Biswas, a retired senior accounts officer at the railway board, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009. As the disease progressed, he developed problems with memory, thinking and behaviour.
Madhumita, Biswas’s daughter mentions how traumatising the years that have gone by have been. It was around 2 years back that the family decided to seek professional help. They approached Life Circle, a home nursing care provider.
Madhumita explains; “My dad can’t relate anything, his mental function is getting deteriorated, he needs 24-hour assistance. My mother took care of my father earlier but since his health has now completely deteriorated, she is unable to do this all by herself”.
Biswas’s wife took care of her husband for almost seven years. As the disease progressed, Biswas could not comprehend instructions, grew increasingly aggressive and his functionality got significantly affected. It became difficult for his wife to care for him all by herself as she was getting old too and was afflicted with arthritis. She visits a neighbourhood Ayurvedic clinic every week to undergo physiotherapy sessions. While she is away, the caregiver from Life Circle takes care of the patient, thus giving her the much-needed break. . “I see that my mother gets the much needed respite with the caregiver from Life Circle”, reflects Madhumita when asked about the changes in the family’s lifestyle since they engaged a home attendant from Life Circle two years ago.
The caregiver’s voice…
Putul Kumari, hails from a village in Jharkhand. She is the second of five daughters. After finishing class X, she trained to become a caregiver from a Skills Training Institute, in Ranchi. Her cheerful demeanour is evident when she talks of her elder sister, who is getting married in less than a month. Putul has diligently saved her earnings from her job to contribute towards the wedding ceremony and is looking forward to it. She also says she wants to help her three younger sisters to study more than her. Putul’s dad is a marginal farmer and her savings from the job are of great help for the family.
Putul is passionate towards her job and explains with a sense of accomplishment, “Pehle uncle humko kuch nahi karne dete the, ab humari sab baat sunte hain. Sirf shave karte waqt hum aunty ka madat lete hain, wo bhi isliye kyunki humko daar hai uncle ko kahin kat na jaye( Initially, the patient did not allow me to do anything but now he listens to me and responds well. I take help of aunty only when he needs a shave, because i am scared that if I do that single-handedly, he might get hurt)”.
Putul helps the senior with activities of daily living (ADLs). She takes him to the terrace for an hour -long walk and is around the patient at all times ensuring his safety. There is a daily schedule that she follows. A person with Alzheimer’s eventually needs the caregiver’s assistance to organise his or her day. Structured and pleasant activities reduce signs of agitation and improve the mood.
Providing care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be very challenging. In the early stages, a person may remain independent and need very little care. However, as the disease progresses, care needs to intensify, eventually leading to a need for round-the-clock assistance.
About the author
Aparajita, has a background in dentistry and has done a Masters in Public health from the EHESP- French school of public health. She has worked at organizations such as WHO(Geneva), URC- Eco(Paris), HandsOn Suburban Chicago & NWSRA(Chicago). Now she is working at Life Circle as the care coordination officer. She believes it’s best when career and passion come together. Her vision to bring some grass- roots level change through organized efforts gives her the drive to work. In her spare time, she loves moving around the city, exploring new places and making memories.