Monday, 26 November 2012

A singular act of Goodness

Day in and day out we hear about corruption moral and financial, of black hearts filled with hatred and intolerance.  We hear that the good are meek and overcome by the evil in this world and therefore we one can only expect misery and frustration in the future. 
This is not entirely true.   There are an equal number of good souls who do acts of kindness that keeps the world on even keel. Stories such as this will help restore one’s faith in humanity.  
An autorickshaw driver in Bangalore was instrumental in returning a wandering Alzheimer’s patient safely to his family.   The old man he had picked up as a fare could not tell him his destination; he could only remember his name and even had no ID on him.  Instead of asking the old man to get off  this autorickshaw driver decided to forego all his fares for the day and kept driving around the town to jog the old man’s memory. The police did not help at all so he took the old man home and gave him dinner and a place to rest.  Luckily he spotted the missing advertisement placed by the old man’s family in a local newspaper and the story has a happy ending.   Read the entire report here.
Wandering is perhaps the most worrying aspect of dementia.   One cannot be too careful about this.  Medical assessment of wandering as a risk is often neglected.  Doctors rarely warn families and caregivers about the behaviours and changes to expect. Also if families have not seen such behaviour in the past they may think that they don’t have a problem. But it can happen all too suddenly when the family of the patient is least prepared for such an eventuality.
Usually when children get lost, they may cry and draw attention to themselves. They may be able to perhaps remember their home address or parents’ phone numbers.  It is also easy know if a child is lost or not and thus could receive prompt help in being restored to its guardians.   
Sadly, when a senior citizen with dementia gets lost, it may not be easy to realise that they are lost.  We usually don’t expect adults to get lost.   Secondly, if the person is mumbling and incomprehensible, not many would spare the time to find out their problem and help them.   Also the patients themselves will not ask for help and they may not even respond if you call out to them.   

In any noisy congested town or city in India, if a patient wanders away, they may easily get dehydrated or may get involved in accidents. They may get jostled in crowds and may get helped by strangers into buses and trains unwittingly to destinations they do not want to go.  Thus they may end up very far from where they started off in a very short time.   Add to this the general apathy towards others and everyone minding just their own business, the patient may soon end up destitute.  There are too many sad stories of patients who wandered off being either never found or who died as a result of injuries and dehydration.  So the key to prevent wandering is by taking precautions against it.  
Caregivers and patients' families have to prepare for this aspect of the disease.    Here is a previous post on who is at risk and how to prepare for it.  Some tips to prevent wandering can be found here
Also available now are some gadgets with GPS tracking in watches, lockets, bracelets and shoes to keep track of persons at risk of wandering.    Though these are not widely available in India as yet, there are some companies introducing these products in the Indian market.  You can look these up on the internet.
Wandering may still happen despite all precautions.  Read tips on searching for a missing person with dementia.    Take the help of social networking sites to look for the missing person.  You could write to!/groups/missingseniorcitizenalert/ with all details and a recent photo and it will be shared widely.  
If despite everything, if wandering does happen and a patient goes missing, I pray that they meet a good soul like the autorickshaw driver in Bangalore and returned home safe.

1 comment:

  1. Caring for a spouse, parent or a loved one with memory loss, Alzheimer's disease or any other types of dementia requires a commitment to cope each day with patience, compassion and flexibility.

    Dementia Clinic