Humans of Dementia – Raynah Remedios
Making her father happier in his sunset years
Dementia and Alzheimer’s were words Raynah had heard of, but could never truly comprehend. All she thought was that it perhaps had something to do with old age. She never realised the seriousness of the condition until it hit home and affected their lives as a family. Raynah lived in another city so her parents would visit her for about a month every year and she would visit them from time to time.
There would be tell-tale signs in her father’s behaviour but as all do, would pass it off as absent mindedness or forgetfulness that was part of the ageing. There was this one time, when she saw him walking about with his dark glasses on. At first she ignored it but when she saw him reading the newspaper with his dark glasses on, she asked why? When he replied, “No wonder it is so dark! I was wondering why there is no light in your house.” it made her wonder but not enough to be worried.
There were other such instances, which she dismissed off, like he would misplace things regularly, repeat the same stories or ask the same questions over and over again. She recalls that her mother was upset because he hadn’t wished her and thought that he was just being mean but he actually did not remember what day it was. From not remembering names, not remembering days, years, birthdays to being unable to keep accounts, misplacing money, forgetting ATM pins, her father soon lost interest in doing the things he loved, like watching sports, movies and the news on TV. What worried Raynah more was that he stopped reading the newspaper, a ritual he had practiced religiously all his life.The family had till then still not realised that dementia had set in a while ago and was now progressing at an alarming rate. When they finally took him to get some tests done, the doctor said that he should have been brought in five years ago. Everything quickly began to fall apart a few months after his diagnosis, as her father started to lose control over his bodily functions and would hide his soiled clothes in embarrassment. He used to love to eat and never wasted food but now he was now pushing his plate aside, barely eating a few morsels. His appetite diminished and slowly his personality started to change as well and would not talk much to anyone. He was angry a lot more and got aggressive when he would not be allowed to go out on his own. Her father walked out of the house often, would wander on the streets, get on to trains and buses and they would be forced to follow him, so he did not get lost. Raynah and her mother soon realised that there would be no permanent solution for this situation.
On their next visit to the doctor, the family was told that the medication was not helping and the only option was to sedate him. The continuous sleeping most of the day left him disoriented and disheartened by the side effects, so the family decided not to continue to sedate him. When Raynah realised that her mother, who was his sole care giver, could not manage the pressures of looking after him all day any more, they began to reach out to people in the hope to find support and care. Of the options available, Raynah came to the conclusion that ‘A1Snehanjali’, dementia care facility of Silver Innings was the best place to give him the 24 hour attention, assistance and after visit to the facility, they felt confident that he would be well looked after there.
The choice to put their father in ‘A1Snehanjali’ wasn’t an easy one. It came with a guilt and disappointment of not being able to provide the comfort he needed and having to reach out to someone better equipped to help their father live out the remainder of his life, away from all his loved ones. ‘A1Snehanjali’ and their team proved to be the right choice and have not only been keeping him engaged but they have helped him retain some of his cognitive ability too. While his memory and cognitive and physical capabilities continue to deteriorate as the disease progresses, the family’s only solace is that he is being taken good care of and doesn’t know what is happening. That he is happy and at peace in his own world, is now enough for the family.
Shared by Raynah Remedios, Daughter
Edited and Complied by Hira Mehta
Courtesy: ‘Remember ME – You Me and Dementia’ Book https://www.amazon.in/dp/9385221051
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