Maa was always a pillar of strength for the family. She was physically very fit and active-doing errands, managing household. Had good health also, not a single sick bone in the body. She didn’t have a formal education but most of her afternoons were spent in reading books. She had a sharp mind and managed the family finance and expenditure like a pro. Her physical and mental agility never let us realise that the lady had crossed 70.
After turning 74, she had had two small accidents at home. Both the times she fell down the stairs. There were a fracture and some ailment, but she recovered and was soon back to her normal self. Gradually the age started taking its toll. In 2007 after a severe fever, a problem arose in her spinal cord. She was admitted to hospital immediately. Though it was cured and she was no longer in a bedridden state, but she lost the ability to stand straight.
She tried to keep herself active, but her health deteriorated. Soon, the person who was never dependent on anyone started needing help for the bathroom and other things. She was a tall and heavy person, so taking her to the bathroom and giving her physical support was a difficult task. She was always a strong-willed person and preferred doing her work on her own, being not able to do so made her irritable.
Around 2013, we noticed a change in her. She started stumbling and falling a lot. On a visit to the hospital, we were told, that she needed a pacemaker. She was now 77 and doctors were not sure if the pacemaker would bring relief or further trouble. We went with the procedure which cured the immediate problem but caused a persistent pain in her chest.
And then crept in dementia….
At first, we had no clue. Her naggings increased, she started forgetting things - even the crucial ones like going to the toilet. She accused us of not giving her breakfast having had it moments back. Then came a time when she was not able to recognize my wife and me. It was a difficult time for us as interaction with her became almost impossible.
In 2017, we had to admit her to hospital. We knew this time there would be no return. One day suddenly she recognized me and called me by my name.
Two days after that she closed her eyes forever...
हर कौम में माँ ही है सर्वोपरि महान,
पुरुष प्रधान हर देश की धरती,
पर माँ से ही है पृथ्वी में पहचान।।
जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी,
निस्वार्थ भाव से स्नेह उड़ेलती माता,
स्वर्ग कहे तो माँ तेरे चरणों मे यहीं,
नाम-वंश रक्षार्थ के तो स्वार्थी है पिता।।
दुख-दर्द, क्लांति-गम सब भुलाके,
नौ महीने कोख में करती है पालन,
भगवान् के भी सदैव पूजनीय तू माता,
कष्ट सह कर उफ ना करे तू संसार की मालन।।"
By: Binoy Kr. Roy
Son, Caregiver, Writer & Retired HAL Employee
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Generally, we tend to pay more attention to the preparations leading up to the surgery but end up overlooking the need for planning for post-surgical recovery at home. If preparations are made in advance, Caregivers can avoid the challenges that crop up later.
When it comes to the elderly, it’s the past you are investing in, not the future.
So what makes it all worth while?
So why do we change in how we respond to them? Why can’t we accept that someone we love has a mental disease?
Because we believe it reflects on us? As SRK says in Dear Zindagi, “We go to a doctor when we have a fever, so why do we struggle to come to terms with mental illness?”