Home nursing care for Alzheimer
We sat in Brig. P. K. Reddy’s beautiful house in the Army quarters in Sikh Village, talking to him about the family’s caregiving journey with Life Circle, a home nursing care provider. His wife Neema Reddy was 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. Neema Reddy was a much loved and respected lecturer at St. Francis College for Women for many years. She retired in 2011. Brigadier Reddy realised 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. In the midst of our conversation, Neema Reddy came to greet us. She was ushered in by Banitha, a professional caregiver who has made a big difference to their lives.
The home attendant
A 21-year-old trained caregiver from Life Circle, Banitha has been working as home attendant with the Reddys 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”.
Senior home care: What the client has to say
Brigadier Reddy says it’s hard to believe that this is Banitha’s first job. He tells us that Banitha has learnt to manage challenging behaviours that comes with the disease, communicate effectively with the patient and keep her safe. He truly values her contribution and mentions that he’s able to leave home for a few hours to run errands or visit friends and family leaving his wife in the trusted care of Banitha. Very soon, he intends to resume playing golf which he was unable to do for a long time.
Banitha takes great pride in running through her day’s schedule with us. She assists Neema Reddy with personal chores, grooming, eating, exercising 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 endeavours to improve her English.
When she went home for a short break to her village near Bhubaneshwar, Banitha’s guardian asked her to stay back. Her parents are no more and her siblings are busy with 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 incurable illness, a family caregiver’s life undergoes a sea change. 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 comes in to give the family caregiver the much-needed respite by taking responsibility for care and thus assuring him or her that it is okay to be gone for some time. It helps the family caregiver to take his or her mind off to play a sport, pursue a hobby or just catch up with a friend over a cup of coffee.