Narendh Ganesh, Family, Parents, Parenting, Grandparents

Don’t Discard your Parents or Grandparents in their Twilight years

3 mins read

The Scourge of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia, even Parkinson's Disease, is not your parents fault

As we in the season of the greatest celebration - that of Mother's Day, let us ponder on this.

Perhaps the greatest tragedies besides death is to watch our loved ones - those that gave us life - degenerate into a world that erodes their well-being, dignity and humanity right in front of us - and which we can do very little about.

Dementia, which is a very real medical condition in which a person literally gets lost into a world of oblivion and a dark space, and a world that we as the so-called "sane" people may never understand.

Yet, many-a-family may have a member or know of some family in which this affliction rears its ugly head.

Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinsons Disease are debilitating and degenerative diseases that consumes our very being, generally as we get older, and no one is immune from such conditions.

Quite often it's the luck of the dice, but each and every one of us are prone to be victims.

For those unfortunate to suffer any of the above, it is harrowing - they not only suffer - but equally, their families suffer too.

Without going into the medical aspects of any of the conditions, I believe that we all need to take time out and learn a little about these debilitations because our humanity will be tested to the extreme should we encounter any of them.

To put it bluntly, a person suffering any of these conditions literally becomes another person - their loss of memory, loss of inhibitions, depression, anxiety and a whole plethora of untoward behaviour as a result, far removes them from reality - and it is not a pleasant sight.

Taking care of such an individual is an unenviable task - we have to alter our lives to ensure their well-being and safety, and many are not equipped for such changes, especially when lifestyles have to be altered.

But when it comes to our own, the value of our love and care can be desperately tested as to how we respond when confronted with such a situation.

For some, it may be a source of embarrassment if some family member is afflicted.

It should not be. It must not be.

For some, it may be humiliation.

It should not be. It must not be.

For some it may be a source of frustration, anger, irritation and annoyance.

It should not be. It must not be.

Admittedly, it is easier said than done, as families have to grapple with the trauma of caring for a family member with such conditions - that require constant care and vigilance as they decline progressively both mentally and physically.

Yet, for others it may simply be a labour of love.

But everyone's situation is different, compounded by the trials and tribulations of their very own lives, so there is no judgement on anyone.

But I take my own life as reference and reflect.

I remember the times growing up, when I was ill, sad, or had taken a fall - and a time when I broke my hand playing rough games - my parents unselfishly made certain that I was of primary concern to them and ensured I was well, no matter what.

Some might say that it is a parent's duty to do such things.

It may very well be, but that was their investment in me, without saying it, that there will come a time when the roles may be reversed - and then it will be my time to do the caring and loving as they did for me.

It almost came to that in 2020, when, just after my mum's passing, that my dad contracted Covid-19 and was literally on his deathbed.

Whether subconsciously, or by obligation - or simply by knowing that my duty as a son was mirrored by my parent's duty to me when I was a child, that I had to play the exact same role my dad played.

I am glad I did exactly that - that every need was taken care of, without question or argument - that I forsook all else so that he recovers.

Only because he had placed his deposit of love and care with me a long, long time ago.

As alluded to above, everyone's circumstances are different, but if we have to remember, even if only for a while, that our parents or grandparents or great grandparents - no matter how angry or irritating or frustrated they may make us at times - that when they slip into a world of Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease or Parkinsons Disease, that all we need to return to them is total love and absolute care.

Not all the wealth in the world will make a difference nor all the gold alleviate their despairing world - but our love and care will be sufficient payback stacked with diamonds.

After all, they did not ask for their situation, and all of us - without exception - could well end up in that very spot that they may be in today.

Stop - reflect - and redirect if you need to, that if you are in a situation to care for your loved one with the most horrible of maladies and you have the ability to do so, then do it - without question.


  • Narendh Ganesh

    Narendh Ganesh is the chairperson of the Duffs Road Civic Association in north Durban, community activist and former member of the Minorities of South Africa party

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  1. […] Parkinson's disease unfolds due to a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors that ultimately lead to the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons (dopaminergic neurons) in the substantia nigra, a region deep within the brain. Dopamine plays a crucial role in coordinating movement, and its depletion results in the characteristic symptoms of Parkinson's. […]

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