I took a phone call from one of the home based carers last night asking me to come in to Chris Nissen today because the mother of one of our patients who died last year had just been taken into hospital. I went in to find a very classic situation of hopelessness! It seems that Aunty M has classic first signs of Alzheimers disease. She is not recognizing family members, getting very confused and upset and is generally causing anxiety to everyone around her. The worrying thing is that she spends every day supposedly caring for her 3 year old great granddaughter.
Anne, my carer, was so concerned that yesterday she decided to call an ambulance and thus Aunty M is now in hospital and has no real understanding of where she is and why! I had quite a long chat with Anne and Aunty M’s other daughter today to see what can be done. The options are considerably limited. There is no ‘home’ that she can go to because there is no money to pay for it. She is also not deemed sick enough for any organization such as the Hospice to provide home based care. It looks as if her daughter will have to give up work to come and care for her mother full-time. In one sense it is great and admirable that she can do this, but in another, she will have to disrupt her own family and lose her source of income and the line of poverty is extended. We promised that the HOPE team will do all that it can to help, but this is one of those classic poverty situations with which we are faced time and time again in South Africa.
We ended up praying and her daughter had a good cry – really, without God, what do people do?!