Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Granny and me

My grandmother has been living in my town for 3 yrs. she just turned 92 (Sep. 2), and has Alzheimer's. this blog will hopefully help me to cope with all that goes along with this disease, my life in general, and not go insane in the process.

she is/was a Katrina victim and has been here since then. she and my aunt were w/o power and alone for 3 days before anyone could get to them. they lived about 30-45 minutes from Hattiesburg, MS. i am going to try real hard not to air my family's dirty laundry we all have enough of that in our families. this is more about the day to day trial of dealing with this disease.

she lived with my mom for the first 2 years. since i am married and have my own house for now (lol), i would go over there on the days i worked, and go home on my off days. i did this for the first year. my husband and i separated the 2nd year so i lived there that year. we finally had to put her in a nursing home the third year. my husband and i are back together now but there are days....

my grandmother was 4 years old when women got the right to vote. she has lived through both world wars, the Korean war, Vietnam, Beirut, Kuwait, and now Iraq. she raised 6 kids during the depression and didn't kill any of them. no small feat if you knew my aunts and uncle (lol). she grew up in an era when women had to be made of what they used to call "good stock".

she has 6 kids 4 still living, 16 grand kids 14 still living and 23 great-grand kids. i think only 3 or 4 great-great-grand kids.

i was her favorite of all of them. this caused me alot of grief growing up and even today. what the rest of them don't know is she hasn't called me by name in 3 yrs. she doesn't even know who i am. i am "that girl" or "her baby" or any number of other names depending on her mood. the woman i see today is not my grandmother. she hasn't been in a long time.

anyway about Alzheimer's. for those of you that don't know alot about the disease i will try to explain as simply as possible. this is not to question your intellect but there is alot about it that is just plain unknown. Alzheimer's is a symptom of dementia. what i have learned is that there are many different symptoms of dementia if which this is one. during the process of this disease advancing, your brain literally dies. people are no longer able to do simple things like eat, swallow, dress, converse and such as that. it isn't that they can't they just no longer remember how.

God has really blessed my mom and i. even though Granny has progressed in her alzheimer's, she is not as far as alot of people i know. she still talks even if it doesn't always make sense. she could feed herself up until about a week ago and now we do it. but at least she doesn't have a feeding tube. she cannot dress herself but she will try to help you. she can no longer walk but she does putt around in a wheelchair. the biggest obstacle is trying to talk with her. she cannot follow a conversation she doesn't know who people are and she cannot tell you if someone hurts her or takes her stuff.

since she is in a nursing home, she does have someone available 24/7. if you have never had a loved one in a nursing home, let me give some valuable advice to you. you must stay on top of things or your loved one will deteoriate very rapidly. either my mom or i go to the nursing home every day. i have found her with soiled clothing, her room dirty, cuts, bruises, skin tears, etc. i am not saying the staff caused all this. what i am saying is you still have to know what is going on or you will encounter alot of people with memory loss. she does have quite a few aides that really like her and that is a tremendous help. they keep an eye on her and give us updates on her when we go to see her. that is not always the case. i give all credit for that to God. you have to question everything. did she eat today, did she get out of her room today, do you know how she got this bruise, cut, tear, etc. if they know you are too busy or guilt to come on a regular basis, they will not take the same care of your loved one. i don't know why but that is the way it is in most cases. nurses aides are understaffed, overworked, usually not very experienced in this type of environment and you are both learning who each other is and what each of you know. remember how you treat them is how they will treat your loved one. this is human nature and not a dig at anyone.

it's late and i wanted to leave my first post on a lighter note. her only son came to see her about a month ago i think. anyway, she was trying to tell me some men came to see her but she didn't know who they were. after about 10 minutes of going over who they were, ( her son and his two sons), she says " i just can't remember things like i used too. have you noticed that?" how funny is that!!


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