Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Update on Grandma

Grandma's been in her new place for just over a week now. Mom said dropping her off last Monday was the hardest thing she's ever had to do. Grandma cried and begged her not to leave her there and promised she'd "be as good as she knows how to be" if they let her go home. She also got all upset over her parents death and said no one told her they were dead...and that happened 30 years ago. God...it's just heart breaking. Kelly sent her flowers from the both of us and she couldn't remember who they were from. When Mom asked her why she put the washcloth in the oven a few weeks ago, she told her, " Mommy told me to do it."

When Mom went to visit her, she said Grandma smelled like urine. They're paying for incontinence care, but no one bothered to check to make sure she was wearing her Depends or that she was clean, so she'd just been going and then washing out her clothes in the sink. My fear is that they're not taking care of her. Her memory is gone and she needs constant reminders to do simple daily stuff..like eat or take a shower. Grandpa is taking it hard too. Apparently after Mom told him about her crying over being left there, he started crying. My grandpa has NEVER shown any kind of weakness. He spent 18 years in the military, fought in WWII and Korea, and was a coal miner after that. He's always been more of a tough love kind of guy and is rough around the edges. It killed me to hear that he cried.

Mom sounded exhausted when we talked and I can't blame her. Most of my thoughts revolve around this whole situation and it makes me tired...I can't imagine how she feels. Today, Mom said Grandma seemed well and was making some friends so that's good at least. Physically, Grandma's great. I wish I could say the same for her mental state. I'll be able to see her this weekend, so I'll be able to say more then. Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know what was going on. Please keep my family in your prayers. Thanks.

Monday, May 07, 2007

REAL family drama

For those of you who talk to me often, you know how extremely irritated I get when my mom doesn't fill me in on family happenings. I'll find out important stuff 2 weeks after it happened..like the time my grandpa was hospitalized for 2 days for heart trouble. I didn't know until weeks later. Most things I find out are through my sister...but the whole point is that it's happened again.

To get everyone up to speed, my grandma has been battling Alzheimer's for about 10 years and it just keeps getting worse, naturally. She knows who we are when we're there, but forgets the second she loses sight of our face. My grandpa isn't as mobile as he used to be and has trouble standing for long periods of time or even getting out of a chair. Since my mom's the closest, she's the one who's been taking care of them. They tried living in an assisted living community, but hated it and moved back home under the condition that they have someone come over frequently to help them out. They had a woman come over 3 days a week to do laundry, cleaning, take them on errands, etc..but Grandpa hated it because she wasn't Mom. So...Mom resumed the role of caretaker. The other lady still comes to do cleaning, but Mom is responsible for all their medical care, groceries, etc.

My mom also has 3 brothers...none of which really help out. The oldest one will come down every so often to help but usually ends up being critical of Mom. When he does come into town, it's usually only when he's going to be in town for something else...it seems to be more of an afterthought. The other 2 hardly even call. In fact, one of them, I don't even consider part of the family anymore. He remarried and inherited a new family.

Mom's taking care of them on top of having a full time job and it's really wearing her thin. I think Dad resents the fact that her brothers don't help because he sees what it's doing to Mom. Needless to say, there's a lot of tension right now. The newest happenings involve Grandma trying to dry a wet washcloth by putting it in the oven at 400 degrees and forgetting about it. She gets up in the middle of the night and changes clothes and ate a box of Polident because she thought it was part of her medication.

Mom and her Dr. decided it was time for her to move to an Alzheimer's treatment center because she needs 24 hr. supervision. Grandpa's been in rehab for 2 weeks because he had an allergic reaction to a knee shot they gave him and there's no one to watch Grandma. So this past weekend, my parents and my sister & Tim helped move some of Grandma's stuff to her new place. They're not telling her it's long term..possibly the rest of her life....they're just telling her it's to help her memory loss...which she denies she has. She doesn't understand what's going on and has gotten more aggressive the worse the Alzheimer's gets.

Grandpa says when he's out of rehab in 2 more weeks that he's going to start getting the house ready to sell and find an assisted living place to live since he needs supervision too. If he were to fall now, he'd have no one to help him. Sigh..it's just sad. They can't afford a live in nurse, but he can't live in the Alzheimer's center. I think I feel more sorry for Grandpa b/c he's still extremely sharp and totally aware of everything going on, but his body is giving out. At least Grandma doesn't know what's going on.

Now they have to live out their lives separately. I don't understand why my mom's oldest brother can't take them in. He has no children, has a 4 bedroom house, lives near a great hospital and is rolling in money...oh, and him and my aunt are both retired..so they have the time to help, but they won't. I'm afraid that being apart after 60 some years will be too hard on them and that they'll lose the will to live. Kelly said she thinks Grandpa doesn't want to live with Grandma anymore. I know it's got to be heartbreaking seeing her go through this day after day, plus you can't talk to her anymore. She makes no sense. And, since he can't move around as much, he can't escape her endless babble.

I feel so helpless and lost. There's nothing I can do. I help out when I can and so does Kelly, and I don't doubt that Mom made the right decision by moving her to the assisted living place, I just wish there were another option. I don't like any of the options to be honest. I don't WANT Grandma to forget. I don't WANT her to live alone. I don't WANT her to wake up alone every morning and be confused. Worse, I don't want her to forget that Grandpa is supposed to be there.

My aunt Annette just passed away earlier this year (I wasn't told this until after the funeral, btw) and she lived the past 16 years completely unaware that she was even on the earth. No one even went to visit her. What if Grandma lives the next 10 years isolated and alone in her own little world? Her body is still very strong, but Grandpa's isn't. What if he passes away and we have to explain it to her? Will she understand or even know who we're talking about? Will she know who we are?

What will I do when it's MY mom? At least in that situation I know Kelly will help me and that Jeff will be supportive. People talk about family drama in the sense of who cheated on who, who's borrowing money from who, etc...but this is real, you know? I'm not belittling anyone else's situation, but I'm 30 and have never had to deal with the loss of someone close to me. My dad's parents died when I was just 1, so I don't remember them. Sure I know people who've died, but no one I was close to. This is an entirely new situation for me and I don't know how to handle it. I always just felt like they'd be around forever and I took for granted that they just lived a few miles away.

I just feel forlorn. I knew they were getting worse, but for some reason it hit me all at once this weekend when Kelly filled me in on Grandma's situation. I'm going to do my best to get up there this week and spend some time with my family. I haven't even talked to Dad in probably 3 weeks...and Mom in about a month. It's so easy to get wrapped up in your own life and forget that there's more important things going on than whether you can get all your chores done while you're off. Sigh....I could just really use a big hug and a big cry right now.