Saturday, March 31, 2007

my sweet Grandma...


I posted before how my Grandma was diagnosed about 6 years ago with Alzheimer's. Before the diagnosis, Grandma was an integral part of my growing up. Both she and my Grandpa lived the majority of my life down the block from my house, making them not only grandparents, but also my second parents. They were very influential in my life. My Grandpa passed away shortly after Grandma's diagnosis back in 2001, and some of us say that Alzheimer's was a 'blessing' for her in her dealing with his death and her new life she would have to lead. She was able to live on her own, in her house for about a year after he passed. Since then, she has been in I think 3-4 other places...I lost count. She is no longer able to care for herself at all...

Alzheimer's sucks people...it really does. My grandma, who used to live down the street from me and saw me daily during my growing up years, doesn't know my name (I don't think). I haven't heard her say "Jennisa" for at least 4-5 years. It doesn't mean she doesn't know who I am, she just doesn't call me by my name.
I wish I could describe what it's like to visit her every 6 months or so, and see a different grandma each time. (I can only imagine what my mother goes through every day!) This last time I was surprised at how much she had changed. I hadn't seen her since last June, and it had been a very rough year for her. She had been in and out of a couple different places that ended up not working for her. Now, she is in an Alzheimer's facility with about 12 other people that suffer from the same issues she has. She's probably about 130 lbs, if that, and when I hugged her, she seemed really weak. Her hair was also not combed, so she really didn't look like Grandma...

But, the part that REALLY sucks...these other people that live there are like in their 80's! They are old and frail. But my vibrant, energetic, hyper at times Grandma got this awful disease when she was in her early 70's. And, although her Alzheimer's is one of the worst of the people that live there, she is probably the youngest and most vital. It really is heartbreaking to see this happen to her. She has SO much life left in her, but unfortunatley doesn't know how to live her life anymore.

This last time when I visited her, I walked into this building, which has a touch pad code to get in. I walked in to this living room like thing, where 6-8 OLD people were sitting watching some "old time" music, from back in the day...I think it was Lawrence Welk. They were humming these tunes like they always have for their whole lives. My grandma can actually remember some of these songs. She was singing them (sort of) when I was there. So, she can sing these old time songs, but can't say my name? Or remember what she ate 10 minutes ago? What is this disease, and why my Grandma?

(These are photos I took of the residents watching TV in the living room)

So, needless to say, I don't really know my Grandma anymore, and vice versa. When I talk to her, I have to speak to her like I do Avery. So doesn't even speak in sentences like Avery, or remember the names of objects like my 4 1/2 year old can! My parents tell me that she does "school" at her home, and she is no longer able to put similar items together as a match...ho hum...

Well, regardless of whether or not she knows my name, who I am, or what she means to me, she is my precious, sweet Grandma Vicki...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you have all those great memories of her when she was still "gramma". She has blessed us all!Mom

Mandalyn said...

Alzheimer's is such a terrible disease! You are absolutely right. I'm so glad you have great memories of her! Those memories will always remind you of who she really is!

Sue said...

That is so sad. I'm sorry she is not doing well. That must be so hard. I am glad you have so many wonderful memories of her growing up. My best friend's Grandfather died of Alzheimer's when she was in her early 20's. It was awful for her. And her Mom is now in a Psych hospital with Alzheimer's and she is around 50. It is such a sad disease.

Those memories though will get you through and you'll be able to share them with your girls.

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