Life When You Have A Relative With Dementia

Life When You Have A Relative With Dementia

Cherish the moments, because they may not last forever.
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Most of us know about Alzheimer's and dementia. They're diseases of the brain, and they gradually affect one's memory and mental ability to the point where someone doesn't remember how to perform basic everyday tasks. It can make life much harder not only for the person who suffers from it, but for their entire family as well. My grandmother has late-stage dementia, and here's a few things I have learned while watching her suffer from this disease.

Dementia can be heartbreaking. To have to watch my grandpa take care of my grandma as if she were five years old again is difficult to watch. When I see my grandma, most of the time she recognizes that I am an important person to her, but it breaks my heart a little every time she asks who I am because she doesn't quite remember why I am important. I constantly call her "Mamaw," so she knows who she is to me, and that maybe next time she'll remember that I am her granddaughter. It makes me sad to see her mind deteriorating, and I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for my mom, and my aunts and uncles to see their mother like this, let alone my grandpa. It's hard, but we get through it one day at a time.

Dementia can take a huge toll on a person, mentally, emotionally and physically. My grandpa is 81 years old and he has aged so much since my grandma's dementia started to progress. He has to help her take a bath, help her get dressed, and keep a constant eye on her to make sure she is OK and not getting herself into trouble. It's tiring for him, and when my mom or an aunt or uncle or even one of us grandchildren come to help out for a day, it can become tiring for us as well, but we're always glad to give grandpa a little break.

Most importantly, dementia can make you love more strongly and appreciate family. To be honest, before my grandma got dementia, I didn't visit my grandparents as often as I do now. I realized the importance of spending time with family, especially your grandparents. They aren't around forever, whether it be mentally or physically, so spending time with some of the most special people in your life is precious time that shouldn't be wasted. You celebrate the little things in life. I always get so happy when my grandma remembers something that she couldn't before, or when she constantly wants to hug me and my sister tight and never let go, because "my girls" came to visit. It makes her so happy when she sees us, and that makes my heart full knowing that this brings her joy.

Life with a grandmother who has dementia can be difficult but when there's love, you can never fail to succeed.

I love you, Mamaw.

Cover Image Credit: Gabrielle Canterbury

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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Knowing That Someone You Love Is Going To Pass Doesn't Make It Any Easier

Death is never easy to deal with, not even when you know it's coming.

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I met Grandmom Doris when I was around 7, so I've known her for the better part of my life. She is my dad's wife's grandmother, but that doesn't mean I loved her any less. I have so many fond memories of making soup with her on rainy days, making mini pigs in blankets in her kitchen before parties with our cousins, walking to the McDonald's that was around the corner from her house, hearing the ice cream man and knowing Grandmom had a drawer with "Mister Toftee" money in it, because she knew how much we loved vanilla ice cream with rainbow jimmies.

She told us stories of when growing up, and we listened to her in awe. She had such a strong voice and the best laugh, and she touched the hearts of so, so many.

I remember playing hide and seek in her huge house and playing dress-up with her old clothes. We did Thomas Kinkade puzzles together, and of course, we sang and danced together too. We always had family Christmas parties at her house, and we loved doing word searches together. When she got her automatic stair climber, my sister and I loved to ride it up and down and up and down.

From the moment she met my sister and me, we were her girls. Our dad would say he'd bring his girls over to see her and she'd immediately correct him and remind him that we were hers.

Last Wednesday morning, we lost Grandmom Doris. We knew it was going to happen, and we've known for years now that it was coming. But, that didn't make it any easier to hear by any stretch of the imagination. We went to visit her the Saturday before, knowing it may very well have been the last time we'd ever see her.

I knew her time was coming to an end, but I didn't know she had only four days left.

I didn't want to go see her at first. I wasn't sure what kind of mental or physical state she was in, and I didn't want my final memories of her to be negative ones of her lying helpless in her bed.

I decided to go, and I will forever be so glad that I did. She was alert, and even sort of remembered my sister and me. Immediately upon seeing her, I realized how much I had missed her over the last few years.

She had pretty severe dementia, and she struggled to remember a lot, especially towards the end. She wanted my sister and me to sing for her, and of course, we did. We sang her John Denver, and we sang her L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole. It was on her CD as "Mama's Song," which is what all the adults in the family called her. She even sang some of it with us.

When we said goodbye to her for the last time, she took our hands and she told us "I'll never forget my girls," and she wouldn't let go.

We'll never forget you either Grandmom.

She lived a good life, surrounded by a family and friends who loved her unconditionally. She was 89, and all 89 of her years were spent loving those family and friends right back. I'd give anything just to hear another one of her stories.

I am so grateful that I had the privilege of knowing and loving such a wonderful lady for most of my life. Rest easy Grandmom Doris, you were and still are loved and cherished more than you could ever know. We love you.

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