Vijaya is a Mumbai-based qualified accountant, who set aside her career for some years to care for her father, a dementia patient. In this interview, Vijaya describes the final months of her father’s life, and the heart-break and decisions and dilemmas involved. [note]
Please tell us about your father’s medical problems in the last year of his life, and the overall care arrangements you and your sister used to support him.
My father passed away in June 2011 at the age of 80. He had developed dementia caused by Binswanger’s disease and multi infarct (vascular dementias) for over 12 years, and he also suffered from other medical conditions like hypertension, age related arthritic conditions, and later UTI and heart arrhythmia. My mother, and later my sister and I took care of him over the years.
My father was not ‘bedridden’ for most of what turned out to be his last year of life. Had we allowed him to, he would have loved to stay in bed. He was very weak physically but was awake for many hours during the day, and also in the night. Sometimes he would not sleep at all for a couple of days and later compensate by sleeping all the time and then he had to be woken up for bath time, mealtimes, etc. (sometimes he would even fall asleep during his bath 🙂 ).
I had suspended my career and returned to India so that I could stay at home all day. I took care of the housework and the daytime activities of caregiving. Usually my sister would spend time in the evening with him after she returned from work; she would feed him dinner, give him his medicines, and put him to bed.
Usually when he was awake, my sister and I would walk him around the house 2-3 times a day. He used a walker, and we had to physically support and assist him as he walked. During the day, we would seat him near windows. From one window he had a view of a road and from another, he could see a garden. Also, for some hours, especially at mealtimes, we seated him in front of the TV because he usually liked watching cartoons.
Read the full post here : Late-stage care, heartbreaks and tender moments, hospitals, dilemmas, decisions: a daughter narrates