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How dementia made me realize the importance of empathy

The unforgettable experience of dealing with my dad's memory loss

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Dementia

Back in 2016, I was working with one of the financial giants in Bangalore.

My parents were staying in my hometown at Kozhikode, Kerala.

My father was close to 72 years, and he was showing slight symptoms of memory loss.

Sometimes he forgot to take check while going to the bank and he missed collecting the balance cash after shopping.

One day he took the car and went out in the morning for buying something. He didn’t return till evening, and my mom was quite worried.

He left the car somewhere in the city, but could not recollect his place of residence.

Thank god, a stranger found him and took him back to my home in a weak health condition.

As my mom was alone and quite upset, the next day I travelled from Bangalore to hometown.

Meeting the doctor

We fixed an appointment with one of the eminent neurologists in the city.

He suggested a CT scan and EEG for further examination.

After checking my father’s reports, the doctor diagnosed my dad with dementia, a medical condition associated with memory loss.

The doctor told me personally that from now on I need to take care of my dad need like a two-year-old kid.

He meant that my dad might urinate and defecate unconsciously like small kids.

Getting terms to the reality

It was painful for me to accept the fact that my dad who was a normal person is now a dementia patient.

I used to get emotional and cry alone as I have never been through such a painful experience before.

I really went through a transformation, gained mental strength to face the situation and became more empathetic.

I wanted to look after him to the best of my ability and arrange him the best medical treatment available.

Since the situation demanded my presence, I requested my manager for a permission to work from home.

My request got approved, and I started working from hometown in May 2016.

Taking care of my dad

My dad’s health was deteriorating day by day. The body weight reduced drastically, and he was just 27 kgs.

Since my dad’s health condition was too weak, he sometimes couldn’t control passing urine and stools.

Me and my mom used to change his diapers and take care of him like a small baby.

Sometimes, my dad used to be mentally stable and recollect the old memories correctly.

There were other times he used to speak about unrelated matters and was not aware whether it’s morning, afternoon or night.

He used to lose his temper for minor issues and behave like a kid.

Time passed by, and after a year he was having other health issues such as urinary block.

Matters became worse and my dad used to get hospitalised frequently.

At that time, my manager wanted me to go back to Bangalore as the HR rules did not permit the option of working from home for more than a year.

I resigned from my job as my dad’s health was getting too bad and I didn’t want to leave my mom alone.

A month after leaving my job, my dad passed away in 2017 August at home with little suffering.

The valuable experience and lessons learned

If you ask me, I have never gone through such a trauma in my life.

After going through my personal experience, I realised how difficult it might have been for people who have suffered from memory loss for close to 10 years.

The trauma that the family members of the patients go through is beyond words.

You need to have real patience and be empathetic to deal with dementia patients.

There will be relatives who express sympathy about your situation, but only a few will be there to help you out.

Before doctors diagnosed my dad with dementia, I have heard about the painful stories of other patients having memory loss.

It never used to affect me seriously.

With my personal experience, I felt empathetic and more attached towards my dad than ever before.

To be very honest, I have never ever regretted for quitting my job.

Though many people still consider my decision to resign my job as a foolish decision, I have never felt so.

I cannot explain the satisfaction and happiness that I got when I took care of my dad, it’s beyond words.

To all the readers out there, you might still get a high-paying job, buy a new luxury car or posh apartment.

You always have the option to hire a home nurse, but there is no point regretting later that you couldn’t take care of your aged parents.

No person can look after and support your aged parents like you.

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