We sat in Brig. P K Reddy’s beautiful house in the Army quarters in Sikh Village, talking to him about the family’s journey caring for his wife Mrs. Neema Reddy who is diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease called Posterior Cortical Atrophy which also affects vision. This is a rare form of alzheimer’s where the patient loses the ability to read, judge distances, depth, etc. Ms. Reddy was a much loved and respected lecturer at St. Francis College for Women for many years. She retired in 2011. Mr. Reddy realized last year that his wife was no longer self-reliant like she used to be and the stress of watching her cognitive abilities decline, affected him greatly. Mrs. Reddy came to greet us. She was ushered in by Banitha, a professional caregiver who has made a big difference to their lives.
A 21 year old trained caregiver from Life-Circle, Banitha has been working with the Reddy’s for 7 months. The Brigadier was very prompt in saying that she is “very persevering and dependable”. Banitha on the other hand said that “she feels at home.”
Banitha takes great pride in running through her day’s schedule with us. She assists Mrs. Reddy with personal chores, grooming, eating, exercise and walking, engaging her in the day, accompanying her on doctor and family visits. Brig. Reddy says that having a caregiver who is able to read medicine names gives the family a great deal of confidence. Banitha has completed class 12 and is very keen on studying further. She spends time reading the newspaper and makes a good effort to improve her English.
When she went home for a short break to her village near Bhubaneshwar, Banitha’s guardian brother asked her to stay back. Her parents are no more and her siblings are busy in their own lives. Her career as a caregiver brings her great joy. That clearly reflects in her relationship with her client. They both have mutual respect and have developed a strong bond.
When a loved one is afflicted with an illness without cure, a family caregiver’s life changes in many ways. Coping with the new state of life is important for the caregiver to maintain his well being and be available to the ailing family member. A reliable professional caregiver assists this by taking responsibility for care and thus assuring the family caregiver that it is ok to be gone for some time. It helps him to take his mind off to play a sport, pursue a hobby or just catch up with a friend over a cup of coffee.
About the Author: Madhumita, a former Software professional is now a full-time mom of a bubbly 3 year old. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, singing and is a campaigner for sustainable living practices.