"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Monday 1 July 2013



“I earn over £100,000 - enough to look after my ageing & ill mum without recourse to public funds. Yet I’m told she doesn’t qualify. So who does?”

Shanika is a British citizen and earns well over £100,000. She doesn’t normally show off her income levels. But it’s necessary to point out that she is capable of supporting her mother in the UK; provide the care, attention and love her mother needs, without recourse to public funds. Something she is being told she is not allowed to do.

Shanika’s mother is 68, living in Sri Lanka. Shanika has dutifully visited her, helping her receive medical attention for her worsening memory loss. Unfortunately, mental health issues are underdiagnosed in Sri Lanka, as they often are in developing countries...things that we take for granted the diagnosis of, are usually put down simply to old age, without any further therapy, treatment or care.

Shanika however knew this wasn’t normal. She persisted and found a doctor who was willing to conduct a detailed testing. And they discovered that Shanika’s mother is likely due to Alzheimer’s disease, compounded by depression and a silent stroke, confirmed by an MRI scan.

Her mother also has a history of high sugar & cholesterol - having had one stroke, she’s at a higher risk of another. However, her memory loss means she often forgets to take her medication, increasing the risk of heart failure, increasing the risk of another stroke. She cannot be left alone. She cannot cook as she often forgets that the stove is on. The doctor has recommended she not drive either, as even familiar roads are forgotten.

Other cognitive functions are fine, but are expected to deteriorate.

Shanika’s mother does not live alone. She is not a single parent, nor is she a widow. She lives with her husband. But a husband who is verbally abusive and unsympathetic of her medical conditions or needs. The situation has been escalating over the last 10 years; with both the parents residing in different rooms of a house…somehow feeling lucky if they have managed to avoid each other all day. This isn’t easy for Shanika to admit…to share with BritCits, our members and our readers. It isn’t easy for her to admit that her parents are only together because of cultural and social stigmas preventing them from seeking a divorce. It’s no doubt difficult for any child to face, however much of an ‘adult’ you become.

However Shanika is facing it. She is an only child and while she calls her mother on a daily basis, she knows she is alone. She is lonely. She needs Shanika in the same way Shanika needed her years ago. Roles are reversed and Shanika won’t turn her back on the person who nurtured, provided, looked after and loved her.

Shanika has looked into finding home-help. While it’s a temporary solution it’s not ideal. Home help is paid help. It’s people coming in to do a job..a job that can only really be done by family, a job that Shanika feels should be done by family. The situation with her parents also means home-help is difficult to find, because of the constant tension between her parents and the fear that outsiders will find out the details of what is an extremely delicate situation.

Shanika knows that other than her daily phone call, her mother doesn’t get the opportunity to converse or interact with anyone. This lack of stimulation coupled with depression exacerbates her mental deterioration. Shanika is being forced to watch from the sidelines as her mother slowly deteriorates into a semi-vegetative state – a mother who she so badly wants to have return to her happy, active and vivacious self.

No comments:

Post a Comment