Caregiver Saroja Subbaraman writes about her husband Mr. V. G. Subbaraman

Mr. V.G. Subbaraman is Charted accountant worked has Chief Executive in the T.V.S. Group. He retired in 1982 and became the director for the Finance company started by the same group.

The Person: He is a very logical person and an Intellectually accomplished person. His honesty was well known among his peers. He retired from the board of all the companies in 1998 and was doing fine till 2002 looking after all the family’s financial affairs like Income Tax and was leading a normal Life. The company was nurtured by him form scratch to crores. After his retirement the company was mismanaged was in doldrums. He was very upset as he felt his integrity was on the line and slowly began withdrawing from the social world. He started complaining about his health and became insecure. We did not take it seriously as we thought it is due to old age and retirement phobia.

Depression and the decline: Due to all this worries he used to get “irritatable colon” as he will feel like going to toilet quite often. So the doctors suggested him to take Codeine Sulfate for a week and he found relief by taking this medication. In the meanwhile he also became very forgetful. He, however, continued to take this medicine and increased the dosage to take 12 to 14 tablets a day. We are still wondering he became addicted or he forgot that he has taken the medicine. By taking this medicine he had severe constipation and started using Hadensa and use to take some Laxatives. If we tell something about this he use to get angry with us at that time. We missed to take him to the doctor, as we did not know it is such a serious matter. In the meanwhile he had a fall and broke his hip joint, which needed surgical replacement. After the surgery, he had to depend on us and we found that the system has become so addicted to codeine sulfate. To withdraw this medicine, I had to put lot of efforts. We both did not sleep for nearly one month. He will insist me to give codeine sulfate every hour. He will shout that he is having stomach pain. Then only I realized the situation and informed the doctor. He told me that it is a withdrawal symptom. At that time I will ask him to say auto suggetion that “I am O.K. I am not having stomach pain” and pray by saying ram.. ram…. I also will repeat the same with him and used to chant slokas together.

The fall: In 2003 he fell down in the house and he had fracture and his ball and socket was replaced. After the recovery from the anesthesia his behavior was abnormal. So we consulted a psychiatrist and he was diagnosed as having depressive dementia. In the beginning he was non co-operative and reluctant and refuse to even come out of the bedroom. Refused to even take bath. First I could not accept his condition. Then I reconciled my self and started chanting slokas sitting by his bedside and ask him to be positive.

The Fight back: For the first few months he would not even listen to the slokas not only listen even a sound will irritate him. Dr. S Vijayakumar gave me a healing process cassette he will refuse to listen. But I did not give up and going on telling good things and was giving all the information what is all happening and read the news paper daily irrespective of if he listens or not. He then used to read the news paper daily and listen to the News daily. He was so particular he does not like people talking or disturb when listen to the news. Gradually he himself started reading the headlines of the Newspaper. Slowly I again created interest in him to view T.V. serials and talk about the stories. Thanks to the program “comedy times” he started enjoying the Jokes and laugh.

Actually he forgot both past and the present. Every day I will make him to say his brothers and sisters’ names and our sons name and also his father’s native place, mothers native place, his qualification and where he worked. First he was echoing and repeated what I say. Now he answer the Questions what he Knows. Even if he does not if I prompt he will say the right answer.

A Child again: He had over the past also lost most of his ability for ‘emotions’. We had not seen him angry, upset or sad or very happy about anything. That is until, Sachin, his grandson began to talk…..

They seem to be in the same mental age. They are a great team together. They go out together every evening, have their afternoon nap together and fight a lot to get hold of the “walking stick”. Its only with Sachin, we see him angry, upset or happy or even concerned sometimes. This may be helped him to express himself all over again, though in a small way.

I am layperson. According to doctors there are many cells in the brain. The M.R.I. does not show which cell has effected. We, the care takers have to find this out by going on talking and observing his behavior to know which area the brain is working well and accordingly we can give therapy. I am sure that with personal care and therapy the deterioration will be slow. It is my personal Experience.

I am sharing my personal experience with all caretakers who are taking care of Alzheimer’s patients to accept this as any other disease in the old age. Try to understand them and be supportive to them. My personal care has along with therapy has improved his memory and it has not deteriorated. He is doing all his daily duties like taking his cloths from the cupboard and taking bath for him, shave everyday in a electric shaver. Cleans it and put it in the place, all without any body’s help. I set a routine for him as soon as he takes bath he tells Gayathri Mandram 108 times and I sit with him and chant slokas for nearly half an our. By daily hearing the slokas he is able to recite them without seeing the book. At least his concentration power has increased.

Do’s and don’ts

  • Any visitor comes introduce him/her with the name and tell something to get familiar with
  • Never ask them to say who they are, or do you remember him. Alzheimer’s patients can understand things: Only they forget.
  • Always don’t hesitate to say he suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, like diabetes or blood pressure. So people can understand and wont ask embarrassing questions.
  • Always treat him like a normal person and ask him to be with you when you have family gatherings. Always talk positively. Daily give them some routine work and appreciate him.
  • In front of him don’t say he will forget and he does not remember things.
  • A daily therapy like telling the near and dear names and some thing about them it should be a daily therapy every day for at least half an hour
  • Set a time to spend with them whatever interest or hobby they like. Example If they like music sit with them and put some cassette or play “carom board” and “snake and ladder” If they like sports keep sports channel. And be with them and ask who is this player and even if does not answer you try to tell explain.
  • Simply don’t put the cassette or T.V. and move. Be with them. Motivate them.
  • Allow them to do whatever ever they want to do, cheer them up.
  • Never discourage them.
  • Don’t force them do to what you want. Initially I asked him to do puzzles. He was reluctant to do. If I insisted or forced he would say some excuse like he wants to sleep or he has giddiness.

Like any other Disease identify the problem and give them the family support. Don’t neglect them .The more you neglect they go into their shell and they withdraw from the society

I have shared my own Experience with you. Each case and the person will be different. Take professional help and follow what he says.

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