Mrs. Rukminidath of Vayupuri Hyderabad is a jovial old lady who takes pride in the accomplishments of her children. “You know, my daughter-in-law is a university gold medallist!”, she beams describing her daughter-in-law Padmaja with whom she lives. While age has made her body frail, her memory is stellar. She greeted me with an enthusiasm I have sometimes found lacking in my contemporaries!

In 2015, Mrs. Rukminidath was hospitalised due to kidney problems. She had lost her husband a short while ago, and this had taken a toll on her health. Losing a spouse of many years can have a significant impact on an elderly person’s physical and mental health. While grief can easily morph into Major Depression, other defects include hormonal imbalances that lead to a reduced immunity. This can have a devastating near permanent effect on health of seniors.

Padmaja and her husband wanted to be sure that she would have support by the time she was well enough to head home. To this end, on the advice of a family friend they reached out to Life Circle, and asked for a Caregiver to be placed with them at the hospital before discharge. This allowed Padmaja, Mrs. Rukminidath and the Caregiver to get their bearings on the situation and form a good working relationship wherein Mrs. Rukminidath could be well taken care of. Recent research has also found that bringing in a caregiver before discharge reduces the frequency of readmission for elderly individuals.

Padmaja is very appreciative of the young women who comprise Life Circle’s Caregiving workforce. She says, “It is amazing that at that young age they take so much responsibility”.

Tracking the well being of our elderly Patients and our Caregivers is important to us. Padmaja Prasad described that the fortnightly visits she receives from the Nurse Manager, not only give her regular updates on her mother-in-law’s vitals, but are also helpful to the Caregivers.

They are young girls who come from so far. The Nurse Manager visits are a good way of checking whether they are doing well, or if they have any problems. One thing I like is they give importance to what the girls feel. They are taken care of very well. I feel that these girls are secure with Life Circle. These girls come and stay for 24 hours in a stranger’s house, but the agency takes care and protects them in their own way”.

Mrs. Rukminidath was born in Behrampore where her father was a government employee. “I was born in the house of V.V. Giri, former President of India”. While she does not speak Oriya herself, she feels a connection with her Caregivers nearly all of whom have been from Odisha. Padmaja Prasad told me how the Caregivers treat Mrs. Rukmindath like a precious baby at times. Describing Chandini Pradhan, one of Mrs. Rukminidath’s caregivers, Padmaja said, “She is a very lively person. She used to smile all the time. There is something cute about her”.

Padmaja Prasad appreciates the fact that all of her mother-in-law’s caregivers have been very alert, and she hasn’t fallen ever since there has been a caregiver. Acknowledging her and her husband’s age, she mentioned, “We both are growing old too. My husband and I used to be very afraid that she would fall and hurt herself. But these caregivers are very alert; they wake up in the night as well, to help her go to the toilet”.

Losing a long term spouse is a harsh experience. A loving family environment and a good caregiver who takes care of basic needs can help an elderly person through this difficult time.

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