As some of you may know, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago. As you can probably imagine, when our family got the news, we were devastated and scared. As time has progressed, my grandfather’s health has slowly declined, and has gotten so bad that doctors recommended we put him in an assisted-living facility. I remember the exact moment I learned of this latest shock.
We were over at my grandparents’ house on Easter Sunday, and after we finished eating lunch, my grandmother pulled me over to the side, and sat down on the couch. She told me what the doctors wanted to do, and immediately my heart sank. I felt a whirlwind of emotions come over me that I’m still struggling with today. I kept thinking, “My grandfather still has so much life left in his body. How could something like this happen to him?”
A little while later, my aunt came over and quietly asked me if I was thinking about him. I started crying my eyes out as all the emotion was too much to take. She just held me and let me cry, and reassured me that my grandfather was in God’s arms and that He would make sure nothing happened to him.
We went over to my grandparents’ house again on Father’s Day, and I couldn’t help but think about my grandfather again, the entire afternoon. It really breaks my heart seeing him like this, his mind okay one minute and then completely blank the next, it seems. I had a great time talking to my cousin and uncle, who lives right next door. I am so glad he does, just in case something was to happen to my grandfather, who is my uncle’s dad. (I apologize for rambling, just trying to let you know know how we’re all related :))
While I was talking to my cousin, we got to talking about our grandfather. I told him I wasn’t sure what to say when I’m around him. I know I need to talk to my grandfather, but I’m just not sure how. Do I ask him really hard questions? Do I talk to him like he’s six years old? Do I ask him what his name and phone number are?
My cousin told me to just give my grandfather a hug and tell him we love him, but that seems so small compared to the battle he is fighting. I feel like I ought to do so much more for him, but WHAT for God’s sake? I feel so damn helpless, especially for my grandmother, who has been kind of forced into the sole caregiver, even though their son is right next door. What can I do for them? How can I ease the burden for my grandmother? How can I let them know everything will be okay, when I feel in my heart that everything is getting worse?
When we got ready to leave my grandparents’ house on Father’s Day, I went over and told my grandfather goodbye and leaned down to give him a hug; he was leaning back in his recliner resting. I just sat there and held onto him for a few minutes and something told me to ask if he remembered who I was. He sat there and rattled off a few names until I finally had to tell him who I was. I was heartbroken and just wanted to grab my grandfather and hold him the rest of the afternoon because it felt like I’d finally lost him. Hell, he didn’t even know who I was, what was I supposed to do? All I remember about that day is crying all the way home, silently because I didn’t want mom to know what was wrong. I am getting choked up now, writing this…
I can’t even fathom what it’s like for my grandmother. She not only has to take care of my grandfather, and her husband of more than 50 years, but she also has to look after her own health and make sure her blood sugar doesn’t get out of control, since she’s diabetic. How can I ease her burden? How can I show her that there are other people in our family who are here to help them? All she has to do is pick up the phone, and I am sure she would have plenty of help whenever she needs it.
Getting back to the doctors wanting to put my grandfather in an assisted-living facility… Is this the right option? Are we making the right decision for my grandfather and my grandmother? What will happen to my grandfather if he is placed in the assisted living home? Will the staff take care of him and make sure he doesn’t wander off, out the door and perhaps into the street to possibly get hit by a car? What will my grandmother do without her beloved husband with her in the same house? They’ve been together since she fell in love with him in grade school, and it really breaks my heart to see their lives destroyed because of this mind-stealing, debilitating disease. They’ve had a fairy-tale marriage, raised three wonderful children, including my mom, and have four grandkids.
Please, all I am asking, praying, is that we have a few more years with my grandfather before he is taken away from us. God, if you’re listening, please don’t take my grandfather away from me!!! 😦