There is an increasing number of elderly South Asians suffering from Mental Illness, Alzhiemer’s disease and Demntia and many go unnoticed or are hidden away by family members as they are afraid of what the community might say, but in this day an age with more education and knowledge this community is coming to terms with these illnesses and the support around them is fantastic.
Yesterday, my grandmother who is about 80 years of age forgot where she lived. The sun was shining and the weather was hot so she went for a walk aound the garden and then thought she would go to her son’s house who lives across the road. As she got to her son’s house she forgot where she lived and went took the wrong turn. Now at the age of 80, she does well to get across the road but she also suffers from dementia and in that split second she lost her way and from Birkby ended up five miles out into Thornton Lodge where she lived when she first came in 1964… this was the only place she could recall.
South Asian families still live within the extended family structure, not necessarily in the same house anymore but within easy reach of each other and only a phone call away. As my grandad returned home from town an hour later and found the door open and his wife gone he became worried as she was nowhere in sight and the neighbours had not seen her. So an extended family search party consisting of grandad, son, daughter, graddaughter, gandson-in-law and brother and neighbours began and within an hour of the search party she was found (three hours after she had left). The police were just about to get the helicopters out when a shop keeper who knew my gran also from the south asian community phoned my dad to tell him his mum had made her way all the way across town, on her ownto her shop!
My gran was happy to be home, but Dementia is unreliable and only when she got home did she remember her address and everything else she had forgotten whilst she was out.
Her life has been a journey itself leaving her family in Pakistan and coming to England in 1964, bring up her six children in Huddersfield and still not know the English language and now as she ages she is losing her present memory and recalling the past more and more… now this is when you can see the benefits of Oral History because if we don’t record it as memory fades so will the traditions.