The septuagenarian with Alzheimer’s

Murti Agarwal, a septuagenarian, started developing Alzheimer’s around 2 years back. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that gradually affects the memory and other important mental functions. V. K. Agarwal, the patient’s spouse explains, “It is difficult to manage Mrs. Agarwal; she does not remember anyone, someone has to be around her all the time, she sometimes screams and even cries, she does not let me away even for a minute.”[sic]

Elderly care: The decision to seek professional help

Things worsened 2 months ago when she stopped eating and her health started deteriorating. She was admitted to Fortis hospital and had to be hospitalised for 12 days. Prior to her discharge, the couple’s son suggested that they seek the services of a professional caregiver. Until now it was the husband who took care of his wife, but as he is in his 80s, the routine was hard on him causing repercussions on his health. The family then collectively took the decision to avail professional help from Life Circle, a home nursing care provider.

 

Journey with Life Circle

Things changed when Seema, Life Circle’s caregiver, came in to help. She helped the patient with activities of daily living (ADLs) and succoured the patient of bed sores. Agarwal is very happy that Seema is able to feed his wife, since not eating at all caused the episode of hospitalization and enormous stress on the family. “She was not eating earlier at all, but now she eats and drinks milk. There is a lot of improvement in my wife’s health. I feel free now and I am glad that I am visiting my son at Chandigarh for a couple of days,” says Agrawal.

Alzheimer’s disease causes brain cells to die, so the brain works less well over time. Caregivers cannot stop Alzheimer’s-related changes in personality and behaviour of the patient, but they can help the patient to cope with them. Keeping things simple, following a daily routine, focusing on the patient’s feelings rather than words are some very basic things that Seema follows which have brought about remarkable improvement in the patient’s health.

Agarwal is sanguine, he smiles and says, “ I take one day at a time and with my wife, everyday is a new day”.

About the home attendant

Seema, the home attendant from Life Circle, is in her early 40s and has two children, a 22-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter. She lost her husband in a car accident when she was one-month pregnant with her daughter, but this loss did not break her. She did her training at a nursing home in Jalesar, her hometown, and never looked back.

Seema is very passionate about her work. She explains how working at Life Circle has given her financial stability. She recently purchased a two-wheeler and her earnings helped her pay off the EMI. Her commute in the bustling city has become easy now. She is able to provide financial support to her children and is content with her job.

Quality care, the need of the hour

Alzheimer’s disease is complex, and it is unlikely that any one drug or other intervention can successfully treat it. Focus must be on helping people maintain mental function, manage behavioural symptoms, and slow down certain problems, such as memory loss. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease comes with high physical, emotional, and financial costs. The demands of day-to-day care are difficult and good coping skills are required; professional help can facilitate quality caregiving for patients with Alzheimer’s.

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.

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