Grandma's Lessons Never End

Like many women, I quit my job several years ago to take care of my 89 year-old Grandmother after she had stroke.  At least we think it was a stroke.  Medical examination never conclusively revealed what was wrong with her.  I came home from work one day to find her sitting with a wide grin on her face, unable to speak coherently, and incontinent.  She was no longer interested in “her” TV programs, cross-stitching, or doing crossword puzzles.  At first, I thought she would get better with care and I was honored to be able to give it.  But in small increments, she got more confused, became completely helpless, and had to be strapped into a wheelchair.  I struggled with the grief of “losing Grandma”, as I had known her before.  We had been a “team” after the sudden death of my mother, and now I felt alone. 

 

One afternoon when I was feeling particularly down, I started to cry and told my Grandma what I was feeling.  I didn’t really expect her to respond or understand.  In those days she seemed to be caught up in the past, often calling me by my mother’s name.  So I was surprised when she spoke, very present and resolved, saying, “Well, I must be like I was then.”  Astonished, I looked up into her eyes and caught the glimmer of the kind of person this tiny arthritic-hunched woman had been all of her life.  She was one among many in her generation who, with rare exception, had tailored their lives to what was needed and requested of them.  In the midst of disability and hallucinatory return to the farm-days of her youth, she was trying to comfort me and be the person I wanted her to be.   I was ashamed of myself for being so selfish and from then on began to recognize the small ways that she was still the Grandma that I had always known, with valuable lessons to teach me. 

kcvenus kcvenus
61-65, F
4 Responses Feb 15, 2010

ITS TRUE.

Wow, what a powerful story. It's so sad when the one you've loved goes away, before they leave this earth. How wonderful for her that she had a beloved caregiver. Not many people understand how difficult it is to care for an aged, changed family member. It is terribly draining and stressful., and there is so little you really can do for them. <br />
My hubby's aged parents live with us. They're 88 and 86 years old. The old man is an alcoholic, has been for many years, so he kinda "went away" a long time ago. Now he is confused, terribly combative and mean, refuses to eat - he's diabetic, and sleeps most of the time. He doesn't bathe, and refuses to the point of hysteria to bathe or have help. He refuses to wear a diaper and keeps having accidents. It is so sad, but it is also incredibly stressful for my husband and his own wife. He has never been a "nice" person, never been easy to please or get along with. He was always a difficult, proud, unbending, unemotional, unloving man. He is all that, but tenfold now.<br />
My mom-in-law has mellowed with age. She was hard and tactless, but now much, much less so. We have wonderful conversations and times together. She can still be difficult, but it doesn't really worry anyone. She has had a very difficult life with her husband. and now she is surrounded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren and is enjoying it so much. She tries not to complain or be a burden. She thanks us for every little thing. She is grateful for anything and everything in her life. <br />
What an amazing difference there is between the two. I see them, stuck in their single beds, placed together, and it hurts me so. I don't want to get that old and decrepit. I would rather go quietly in my sleep long before that.<br />
Robyn, kudos to you. X@

Hello Robyn: Thank you for your kind remarks and my prayers are with you. You might check out the Alzheimer's reading room for getting your dad to take a shower...just do a search on their site (Alzheimer's Reading Room" for the issues you are facing (shower? or bath?) I used the tips they present there to get a lady to take a shower, I was starting a caregiving job. And the first time I tried to give her a shower, it was just awful...she cried and screamed...I came home and looked on the Alzheimer's Reading Room...the next day I used their tips...and wow! It worked. I was amazed. I added a little something by starting early in the morning when I got there with a little newsletter page with her name at the top (Alice's NEWS, January 10, 2013)...It said (in big letters), Today is Thursday. Today I take my shower. I feel so good after I take my shower. I feel clean and happy...." I can't remember the rest, but it was short and to the point. Then I asked her after breakfast if she was ready...she said no. I said okay. Then after lunch I asked her, and she said, in a little while. I said okay. Then I sat beside her and said, "Okay, let's do this.." She nodded and I took her hand and we went into the bathroom.

It was amazing...the Alzheimer's Reading Room offers all kind of tips...they might have something to help ease your dad's mean-ess too. I used the incontenance tips and they worked also. I wish I had known these things before...Anyway, much love, prayer, and blessings sent to you. REMEMBER TO LOOK AT THE THINGS FOR TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF....AND DO THEM!! GOD IS WITH YOU....KAREN (KCVENUS)

AS CAREGIVERS, WE NEED TO FIND SUPPORT...BECAUSE OUR HEALTH IS IN DANGER IF WE DON'T....ASKING FOR HELP, IS A PROCESS OF LOVE. MY EMAIL IS BUMP721@GMAIL.COM IS YOU WANT TO CHAT...OR I MIGHT HAVE SOME OTHER TIPS TO HELP...BUT AT THE VERY LEAST, I CAN AND AM SUPPORTIVE...LOVE ALWAYS, KC VENUS - KAREN

Thanks Tolerant. I hope you find someone to put you out of your misery someday. Be well.

Thanks Tolerant. I hope you find someone to put you out of your misery someday. Be well.