Bharathi, 57 years old, has a degree in psychology and is a social worker who volunteers some time with dementia patients. When her 83 year old aunt started behaving strangely, she realized that the symptoms could be dementia, and gave the family brochures and literature on dementia. This led to a proper diagnosis and the family was able to learn how to help the aunt, who is now much better and happier. In this interview, Bharathi shares her story.
Could you share the salient events prior to the diagnosis?
My aunt and her family used to live in Vizag before they moved to Bangalore. My aunt is 83 years old. Her husband (my uncle) is 90 and very active and articulate (he writes stories). They live with their eldest daughter (60 years old) and her husband, who is 75 years old. Another daughter is in the USA.
Around eight years ago, Aunty lost her son, and this was a very big shock to her. She also started becoming forgetful, for example she would forget to switch off the gas. She put on weight. All this was diagnosed as a thyroid problem, and doctors said that the problem had probably been there for a long time. However, her forgetfulness continued even after treatment.
After coming to Bangalore, Aunty seemed worse. She fell down twice on her way to the bathroom one day. She was unable to get up the second time and became bedridden after that. Doctors who checked her said it was “old age” and that she might have suffered from a stroke or something like that.
Aunty deteriorated rapidly after that. Though she talked about old times, she sounded confused and was often unable to express her needs. he ripped off her diapers and soiled herself often. When her husband tried to clean her, she would get agitated. She also developed bedsores.
Aunty often shouted in those days, for example, shouting at Uncle because he was watching TV. She could not sleep at night and remained in an agitated state. Her voice also sounded different and more commanding, which alarmed and worried the family.
Read the full post here : A family recognizes dementia and adjusts for it: a social worker narrates her family’s story