Sumita Dutta Shoam and her father

I am a single mom caring for my semi-paralysed father in India and supporting my two sons. In December 2014, my widowed father fell ill and moved in with me and my sons in Chennai, and together, we handled a flood of problems, both figurative (his cataract operations, or his stroke which robbed him of his sense of feeling on one side of his body) and literal (the floods of December 2015, and cyclone Vardah a year later).

After my father’s stroke, he needed 24/7 care. But in India, hiring and keeping nurses is a major problem for people at my income level. I was the sole caregiver for the first five months: bathing him, emptying his bedpan, feeding him, washing his dentures, and changing his clothes and bed linens. I slept on a floor mattress in his room and hardly had a moment to spare even for my sons.

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