Nadira (name changed) is a highly-reputed consultant who has executed sensitive and critical assignments with several well-known multi-national companies. She is now taking a break from professional work and residing in India, caring for her 80+ mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. In the interview below, Nadira shares how the progression of her mother’s illness reflected in behavior changes, how the family took time registering that these changes were different compared to earlier, more regular difficult behavior displayed by her mother, and how she has now educated herself on the condition and developed the patience, love, and empathy required to care for her mother.
Please share some background information related to your family and situation.
I was the first person in my extended family to leave home at 17 years of age – to study abroad and shape my future. I am the youngest of three children; my sister and brother are much older than me. It always seemed to me like there was a whole generation missing between my parents and I. Because of this, my relationship with them was always fraught with confrontations and rows, especially in my late teens and early twenties.
The relationship with my mother in particular was pretty fractious, probably because we both have very similar personalities; we are both headstrong individuals with quick tempers. Our blow-ups were frequent, harsh and at times even violent, because she seemed to be possessive and always wanted to have her own way.
Looking back now, I realize that my mother started showing symptoms of dementia around the mid-1990s. Without any knowledge of what he was dealing with, my father took care of my mother until 2001, at which stage my parents moved in with my older sister.
After I left home for studies, contact with my parents was restricted to short annual visits. My contact with my siblings who were married and lived different parts of the world, was even less. My parents lived in India by themselves because my siblings and I were settled abroad. Looking back now, I realize that my mother started showing symptoms of dementia around the mid-1990s