An Open Letter to my Grandma with Dementia

I know you can't help it and aging is just part of life. You would never want us to remember you like you are now. It's hard to walk in to visit you and getting asked every other time "Who are you?" You used to talk me up to random strangers in doctors offices and anyone who would listen. I was "your Hannah," "your Rosebud." I still am, even if you don't remember me anymore. At holidays you made sure everyone knew I was your "favorite" (even though you said that to all your grandkids). You lived right next door in the little blue house. You would walk back the lane every afternoon when I got home from school and helped me with my spelling and math homework. You played games with me and taught me how to play scrabble because it was your favorite. You would stay for dinner and help with dishes afterward every now and then. Every couple weeks and around special family occasions you made homemade donuts, pies, cakes, and pot-pie.

The last eight years have been tough, you've gotten worse. I remember vividly praying for your memory to get better, year after year. It started out with you misplacing things or forgetting to take your medicine. Over the next couple of years, you started to forget to turn off the stove or that you were even cooking in the first place. We had to disconnect it for your safety and our sanity. You became a safety hazard to yourself and we had to start checking in on you more than usual, bringing you meals and making sure you had your medicine for the day. A year of doing that and then you started to fall.

When your falls started happening it was not a huge deal, a few bumps and bruises. Then one day I came to bring you dinner, I found you on the floor covered in blood. You were conscious still and the medics were on their way. That is the day that everything changed. We sat in the ER for 6 hours while you got staples in your head and surgery to remove your toenail which was basically off already. That day I remember like none other because that was the day I realized everything was gonna change. I was right, we had to put you into an assisted living facility with a memory care unit. Gathering up your belongings from your home was rough, knowing you'd never be living in that little blue house again. Cleaning out the remainder of your things and adopting your cat, Snowball, is where I broke down in tears. I realized that while you may still be alive you are no longer the grandma I remember.

Visits don't get any easier, and seeing how much you hate it there hurts, but we know in the end it's what's best for you. You remind us every time we come to see you how much you hate it and it's hard to help you adapt when you barely even recognize us anymore. I know you want to remember us and the "good 'ol days" but you can't. Just so you know, even though you may not remember me, I remember you. I love you always.

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