This week’s LBC topic has again been suggested by Maria the gaelikaa. I know why she suggested this but she has left me in a tough spot to write about this.

We have lived where we live now for 25 years. We have had two complete renovations during the period and the last one was ten years ago. By that time, I had retired and was at home and saw what happened during the two weeks that it took to paint and then clean up the mess afterwards.

Just two weeks ago, my sweet daughter in law kind of gently suggested that we go through another complete renovation. I said that if she waited just a while longer, she will spare me the problems associated with such an enterprise. She has not taken kindly to that suggestion and I am sure that it will crop up again sooner or later. The next time that it does, I shall simply agree and suggest that for the duration of the exercise, I decamp to better climes like my brother’s home down South.

Watch this place for further inforamtion.



This post is dedicated to Nick in whose blog post this exchange took place.

Me: “At the individual level, many of my well wishers have been telling me for decades that I am in need of psychiatric help. One of these days, I may as well seek some.”

Nick : “I could probably do with some psychiatric help myself, so anyone suggesting as much is not going to offend me in the slightest.”

Care Giving II.


Continuing from where I left off yesterday, let me start off by going back to the beginning of my caregiving experiences.

Urmeela suffered multiple cardiac and cerebral infarcts in 2001. After the initial hospitalisation and coming home she was advised to be careful and I was in turn told that her condition would have to be medically managed for the rest of her life. The infarcts enfeebled her and led to dementia as well. She had to be on medication and moderate exercise and generally kept without stress.

We were able to provide her with all these till her end which was sudden, painless and totally unexpected. There was just one hiccup and that was when I had to go to Tamil Nadu on a very lucrative assignment and I took her with me. She had all the material comforts that she had back at home, but was generally unhappy there as she could not understand or converse in the local language there and the neighbours were incapable of speaking or understanding English or Hindi. Since by that time Ranjan had married and well settled she went back home and became her normal self. Normal to the extent that her condition permitted. She however missed my company and therefore, I wound up my assignment earlier than I otherwise would have and returned to Pune to be with her.

In my father’s case, it was at Urmeela’s insistence that I agreed to take him in when his second wife died and her children conveyed their inability to care for him at the age of 91. He came to stay with us and we provided him with all the material comforts that he wanted including some that he had never had before. Four months after his arrival at our place, Urmeela died and since Ranjan by then had been divorced, our home became a home of three single men, each with his own priorities and quirks.

As I write this I am sharing my insights of what must have happened to my father to make his stay with us so unpleasant compared to the time I had with another care-receiver.

Till he moved in with us, my father had led a very independent and self centered life with his own set of friends, admirers and contacts. His move to our home in a different state and city where he had no friends or contacts other than his immediate family was the first big setback for him. That he had to adjust to a different rhythm in just about all walks of life for him must have been quite a task for a 91 year old man who had lived on his own terms till then. Being my father, he also expected that I would kowtow to him and let him be the alpha male at home, which I, by then a well settled old bandicoot myself would have nothing to do with. I tried to make him understand that he was at my home, not his and he had to observe my way of doing things. In retrospect, I think that this was the most galling aspect of his time with us for him,  and I now really regret that I did not have the sense to have handled the situation differently.

I find it extremely difficult to be away from home and my comfort zone, and for him it must have been a traumatic change but I did not have the sensitivity to understand that. I was carrying a lot of baggage of my earlier relationship with him.   His end was messy and the last six months of his life was the most difficult for me and Ranjan.    His death came as a great relief.  It is after his death that I was able to  think about the four years that he spent with me dispassionately and how perhaps I could have handled the relationship differently.

Dilip’s father’s story is very much like my father’s. A fiercely independent individual who made good on his own and brought up two children to be good human beings. The daughter is married and not in a position to take him in. Dilip himself is just starting his life after a series of failures. He and his wife both work like almost all young people now have to do to provide good education for their two children and to pay off their mortgages. The old man has no place to live in having retired from a government job that had provided accommodation to him till his last working day. Keeping the father with the family in a small little apartment was proving to be difficult with the old man getting into incontinence and dementia and not willing to accept that he is now in need of professional care. Dilip has arranged to put his father in an assisted living facility, but the management of the facility is not able to handle the tantrums that the old man throws and want him to be removed from the facility. Dilip is now in a great dilemma and that is when he came to seek my advice.

All that I could do for Dilip was to share with him some of the mistakes that I made as well as some insights that I gained from such mistakes subsequently. Since I did not have any experience in handling an outside agency like Dilip now has to handle, I was not able to be of help there. I however have asked him to seek medical advice for his father’s condition at the home and to see if he cannot be managed medically. Unfortunately, the kind of home that Dilip can afford does not provide in house medical facilities and so an outside consultant will have to be arranged for and I hope that with such an intervention, the situation will improve and the old man will calm down.

The insight that I shared most with Dilip is the one about the loss of independence that affects old people most and how I was unable to understand this as being the cause for my father’s behaviour. Dilip seems to have understood this and hopefully he would be able to manage his difficulties better than he has been able to hitherto.

Care Giving.

help concept, special toned photo f/x, focus point selective

I should know. I was caregiver for my late wife for seven years and for my late father for two. Both were as different as chalk and cheese in terms of the quality of the experience of caring, but in retrospect with time to reflect and having read up more on the experiences of others, I can say that there were some common features that I should have identified but missed and hence made both the care giving and the care receiving a painful process as far as my experience with my father was concerned.

Why am I suddenly raking up the past? I am neither a caregiver nor a care receiver at present and I hope that I will never become the latter ever.

One of my son, Ranjan’s young friends had been having problems with providing care for his retired widower father and had confided his problems with him. Ranjan suggested that the young man, let us call him Dilip, talk to me and so he called on me last week and shared his problems with me.  I in turn shared my experiences of what I did as a caregiver for my father and also what I should have done differently and what I should not have done at all. He seemed to have been relieved that his experience was not unique and went away with the intention of taking my advice on some matters that were his current problems.

During my caregiving days I was quite active on the caregivers group informally and formally via blogs, mail, personal contacts and facebook and one such contact of those days, JS contacted me on the messenger on facebook on reading my post on Justification with advice and we had a very fruitful exchange there.

These two instances coming one after the other last week got me to reflect on my own experiences as currently I am going through a whymeitis phase with a cold / fever phenomenon attributed to the changed weather conditions by my GP. This temporary setback made me think that if I can be so debilitated with a garden variety cold due to my senior citizen status, I may end up like my father did receiving care from a son and that I should try and not be like what my father was to me.

My reflections during the last few days has given me some insights which I need to firm up before I share them with my readers which I will do shortly as a sequel to this post.