caring for my grandma… or trying to

About 4 years ago my grandparents moved from their apartment to an assisted living complex. My grandpa had Alzheimer’s and they needed more care, meals cooked for them, their laundry done, etc. My grandpa hated it there, when he remembered that it wasn’t his “home,” and I think that partly contributed to his fairly quick decline. Not too long after, he was hospitalized for trying to eat dinner with a knife. They found lung cancer and that was the cause of death just a few short months after…. but the Alzheimer’s was there, too, and he was forgetting how to eat, where he lived, people’s names. I miss him a lot, but I am thankful he didn’t have to forget us. The cancer took him before the Alzheimer’s got worse and he still knew all of his family members and he knew that we were all by his side.

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For the past 3 years my grandma has been living in that same assisted living apartment alone. It seems her dementia has progressed recently to what you’d consider Alzheimer’s… she gets confused in the hallways trying to get back to her apartment after lunch or the nurse’s office, the other day she couldn’t get dressed (tried putting a nightgown on her legs for pants), and sometimes she forgets who my children (her great-grandchildren) are.

It’s really the hardest thing to have to watch a person go through and it’s really hard to know how to deal with it. My mom has asked and begged her many times to move in with her, but my grandma won’t. We don’t want to push it… to take her away from the place she knows now as “home” because we did that to my Grandpa and it didn’t go well.

g&g at wedding

We visit her often–it’s just on the other side of town–and get her out for dinners and lunches. She comes to the kids’ birthday parties and she likes to go to the symphony. Right now it’s the most we can do… just be there for her. The assisted living complex has increased her care, too, checking in on her more often and helping her with more small chores like picking out clothes. But when someone can’t be there??? I mean, she does live alone… in an assisted living complex or not, she has her own apartment and there isn’t someone with her all the time. She has fallen before, she has had to call for help. So now we have her use medical alert systems. They’re basically buttons she can press in an emergency to get help. She has a couple buttons in the different rooms of her apartment, but we also try to get her to wear one around her neck. She will wear it… when she remembers.

We just hope it’s all enough – which reminds me, it’s time to check in on her! I’m thankful we moved back to the area last year and now live so close <3

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