The Detriments of Dementia

This is a tough topic.

Most of my readers here expect the usual school, sports, or social updates that I share…
and yes, this most definitely covers all things family, but there is also the tough stuff.

Many folks reading this will remember me sharing our journey with Grandma M; others are newer readers and aren’t aware.  Some of you are family, or friends, and know a little more of what’s going (or not going) on.  A past review can be found HERE.

Detriment 1:  Care confusion.

Grandma M is in a memory care facility.  It is not where I wanted her.  However, she did not want to be with us.  Thus this is, at the time, our only option.  Letting go was a transition; being aware of the lack of care in these facilities is stagnant.  Oh, they sort of do the necessity like feed and clothe, but I am talking empathy and nurturing the patients.  The patients, like my mother-in-law, are people.  They have someone who cares about them, they have lived life, they matter.  To have Mom with one earring on, no shower, disheveled hair, 2 coats on, and have no glasses on is careless.  Sure, these patients are lost, confused, and some times agitated, but they deserve dignity.

Detriment 2:  Relational reality

Now that Grandma M is in this memory care facility, I find fault in myself.  You see, Fred swings by to see his mom occasionally.  Chanelle has invested once a month visits with her while living in California.  Now that Chanelle is living with us, she goes 2-4 times a week to visit her mom.  It is an hour (without traffic) one way.  Me?  I do not go see her… have not up to this point.  Oh, I do see her, whether I go with Fred and the kids, or she comes to our house every few months for a visit; however, I personally, on my own don’t go see her.  I love her.  and I’m pretty convinced she loves me.  She just hasn’t always liked me.  The harsh words of the past make me hesitant to visit the moods of todayPraying through the process.

Detriment 3:  Friends and Family fall away

Dementia is tough stuff.  When we had Grandma M in our care, it wasn’t common for relatives to check in to see how things were going.  Dailiness was difficult. I understand the challenge of finding time from our own lives to invest time in a relative far away.  In today’s social media, we have found excellent ways to close that gap; e-mail, facebook, texts, phone calls.  Yet with dementia, the affected relative cannot function this way.  This is the relative that would take trips to see other folks back in the day, yet since she has been admitted to this facility, has had very little to no visitors.  Obviously, I understand if it is a difficult choice to visit her; trust me, it’s not easy seeing someone you love no longer the capacity of the person they once were.  It’s downright heartbreaking.  The bigger picture is to take a look around at those who surround us.   Look at how busy we are.  Look at how much we do, how many we help… then stop.  pause.  Who will be around for you to the end?  When you have nothing left to give except to just exist, who will be along side you?  Who will reassure your fears, and comfort your anxieties?  For Grandma M, this is Chanelle.  Who will make you laugh when there is not much joy left?  For Grandma M this is Fred.   Who will make you feel loved?  Will you be forgotten?

For our family, dementia came in and devoured our mom in just a quick few years AND at quite a young age.  It’s frightening really.  Never did we expect this journey to fall in our laps at such an early stage of life, but it is here, and we are traveling it best as we can.  It’s a lonely journey.  Wondering if the choices you are making in the behalf of your loved one is the right decisions…

Update on Grandma M-

Michele Feb 2013

We are not happy with where she is residing.  Personally, I feel like she gets overlooked there.  In reality, it is too big a facility and too far away.   She does have some relatives that are near her, but visits are minimal (much like mine), so we are looking for a closer residence.  A place where we could swing by on a whim during our own dailiness.

Grandma M did spend some time with us last week (wed thru sun), and we all had a lovely week end with her.  She enjoyed walks with Chanelle, dinner times with our family, and a movie night with just us ladies.  She watched the kids play, and laughed at their silliness.  Makes all our hearts ache, wishing we could provide enough for her here on a permanent basis.  Chanelle does a lovely job giving Grandma M the gentle care she needs, such as help with the shower, brushing teeth, and doing her hair for her, guiding her to eat breakfast.   The challenge in nurturing her is that there cannot be any gaps in care management.   She needs prompts and guidance and redirection as needed.  We cannot securely provide that with Fred working, and Chanelle working part time, and myself schooling the 4 kids plus watching little Peanut every day.  So, for now, our prayer is that we can get her into a memory care facility close to home, and that not only will we have more opportunity for her to visit with us, but that our family will establish relationships where she will be also.

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.  Psalm 71:9

4 thoughts on “The Detriments of Dementia

  1. I feel your pain. And wish we were closer (for oh, so many reasons). Maybe we could have our own home for little old people with memory problems? Tony helps Grandpa shave these days, but is leaving for Walla Walla at the end of March (transferring to Walla Walla University) and I do not know how we will manage without him. He is the best grandpa wrangler imaginable.

    1. Interesting Heather, as Grandma M has a fondness for Andrew, and Andrew seems to have a tender heart towards her (and her oddities). Their (our boys) hearts must be designed for such things, eh?
      Wish we were closer too, although with the current move, we are 30 min closer than we were. ha.

      1. I can’t speak for Andrew,but I think Tony understands how uncomfortable Grandpa is in the world, even if their reasons are very different, you know. He volunteered at a day care place for little old folks for awhile, too. It really is his gift. It’ll be interesting to see if that becomes Andrew’s gift, too!

  2. Sheri,

    Just wanted to let you know that I am praying for your MIL and your family. Just two years ago, my Nanan (My grandmother, whom I was very close.) passed away from dementia. We see it now how early it actually hit her-but always brushed it off as forgetfulness. We all tried to pitch in to keep her home. My grandfather promised to never place her in a home and he was determined to keep his promise. We did the best we could-but she really needed so much more. I wish we could have done more or done things differently for her to make her last days more comfortable. Hopefully, she took comfort in knowing we cared, we tried to respect her wishes, and did the best we could.

    It’s wonderful to hear how much you care for your MIL. My sister works at a retirement home at she sees all to often how the elderly are forgotten.

    God Bless,

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