Elderly care for a senior with Alzheimer’s

The septuagenarian with Alzheimer’s

Elderly care for a senior with Alzheimer’s is a combination of many activities. The senior has to be handled gingerly. Murti Agarwal, a septuagenarian, started developing Alzheimer’s symptoms around 2 years back. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that gradually affects memory and other important mental functions. V. K. Agarwal, the patient’s spouse explains, “It is difficult to manage Mrs Agarwal. She does not remember anyone, someone has to be around her all the time, she sometimes screams and even cries, she does not let me away even for a minute.”[sic]

Elderly care: The decision to seek professional help

A few months ago, when the symptoms of Alzheimer’s started progressing, she stopped eating and her health started deteriorating. She was admitted to Fortis hospital and had to be hospitalised for 12 days. Before her discharge, the couple’s son suggested that they seek the services of a professional caregiver. Until now it was the husband who took care of his wife, but as he is in his 80s, the routine was hard on him causing repercussions on his health. The family then collectively decided to avail of professional help from Life Circle, a home nursing care provider.

Journey with Life Circle

Things changed when Seema, Life Circle’s caregiver, came in to help. She helped the patient with activities of daily living (ADLs) and succoured the patient of bedsores. Agarwal is very happy that Seema can feed his wife since not eating at all caused the episode of hospitalization and enormous stress on the family. “She was not eating earlier at all, but now she eats and drinks milk. There is a lot of improvement in my wife’s health. I feel free now and I am glad that I am visiting my son at Chandigarh for a couple of days,” says Agrawal.

Alzheimer’s disease causes brain cells to die, so the brain works less well over time. Caregivers cannot stop Alzheimer’s-related changes in the personality and behaviour of the patient, but they can help the patient and the family to cope with them. Keeping things simple, following a daily routine, focusing on the patient’s feelings rather than words are some very basic things that Seema follows which have brought about a remarkable improvement in the patient’s health.

Agarwal is sanguine, he smiles and says, “ I take one day at a time and with my wife, every day is a new day”.

About the home attendant

Seema, the home attendant from Life Circle, is in her early 40s and has two children, a 22-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter. She lost her husband in a car accident when she was one month pregnant with her daughter. She did her training at a nursing home in Jalesar, her hometown, and never looked back.

Seema is very passionate about her work. She explains how working at Life Circle has given her financial stability. She recently purchased a two-wheeler and her earnings helped her pay off the EMI. Her commute in the bustling city has become easy now. She can provide financial support to her children and is content with her job.

Quality care, the need of the hour

Alzheimer’s disease is a complex, medical and social problem among seniors. It is progressive and cannot be cured, though there is significant global research in this direction. The focus must be on helping people maintain mental function, manage behavioural symptoms, provide comfort and slow down the motor and mental deterioration. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease comes with high physical, emotional, and financial costs. The demands of day-to-day care are high and good coping skills are required; professional help can facilitate quality caregiving for patients with Alzheimer’s.

About the author

Aparajita has a background in dentistry and has done a Masters in Public health from the EHESP- French school of public health. She has worked at organizations such as WHO(Geneva), URC- Eco(Paris), HandsOn Suburban Chicago & NWSRA(Chicago). Now she is working at Life Circle as the care coordination officer. She believes it’s best when career and passion come together. Her vision to bring some grassroots level change through organized efforts gives her the drive to work. In her spare time, she loves moving around the city, exploring new places and making memories.

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