Scared and Alone

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!!! 😦


7 thoughts on “Scared and Alone

  1. I think of Alzheimer’s as possibly the worst disease, because it steals the memory. And it breaks the hearts of the family. My aunt had it. I didn’t mind that she started calling me by my brother’s name. But it became progressively worse. I’ll be praying for you, Jason, and for your grandmother.

    • It’s really hard on me Glynn and I know my grandmother’s heart is breaking. I just don’t know what to do or say. Sometimes I think it’s far worse for the family than the one with the disease, because with their mind being stolen, they may not realize what is happening… I didn’t mind my grandfather not knowing my name, it kind of gave me a chance to talk to him for a minute, to see how he was doing. It still really hurts though… thank you for the prayers πŸ™‚

  2. Always remember that just because someone can’t recall your name does not mean they are not comforted by your presence and the sound of your voice. Your family has some difficult decisions ahead but I am sure they will be handled with care and grace.

    • Thank you so much Fran. I really need to tell myself that just being there could be the biggest way to help.I know it was really comforting to just sit with him, even if we didn’t talk. Just knowing he was still alive meant more to me than anything in the world!!!

  3. My father had Alzheimers so I know what a terrible disease it is. Mum kept him at home until the end, although it was so very hard on her and I do sometimes think it would have been better for them both if she’d agreed to have him go to an assisted living facility. During his last year, he was like an adult baby. He had no idea who any of us were, became violent (through frustration, no doubt) and was unable to feed himself or use the toilet. It’s terrible to see somebody you care about going through that, so I do understand how you feel. Blessings x

    • Thank you so much Sharon!! You have no idea how much I appreciate the love and support of my friends through this difficult time. You are a blessing to me. God bless you and your mum. Love and respect, Jason

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather. I totally agree with Fran that although he may not remember your name, it doesn’t mean he isn’t comforted by your presence. Whether or not to move a loved one to an assisted living facility is a very personal and difficult decision. There are very good facilities out there (I used to work in one) and there are also some that aren’t so good. If your family chooses assisted living, then it’s very important to take your time, do your homework on potential facilities and visit them ahead of time. It’s very difficult to watch a loved one decline in health and Alzheimer’s is particularly hard. I’ll keep you all in my thoughts. xx

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