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Finding The Blessing In Dementia: Dementia Diaries

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Oh boy. Do I have lots to share about my grandfather and the crazy ride that the Dementia and Alzheimers Disease are putting him (and the rest of us) through. I have to tell you that I am noticing that Finding the Blessing in Dementia is allowing me to cope with this crazy ride I (we) are all on. I spent some time with him yesterday at the Nursing Home and he was by far, the worst I have ever seen him. Not bad meaning he was violent or agitated (thank goodness!) but completely on another planet. Literally. 

Finding the Blessing in Dementia

Since my gram passed away the night before Thanksgiving, he has managed to deal with her death fairly well. We have done our best to keep him on his regular schedule of camp everyday and coming home on Saturday and Sunday for a few hours to visit with his cat.

Finding The Blessing In Dementia: Dementia Diaries

This week has been especially rough as the temperatures here in Mass have been below zero (which means taking him home isn’t an option) and we got hit with a snow storm that dumped about a 1.5 feet of snow. Between the snow, ice and below freezing temperatures, he hasn’t been able to go Adult Day Health (Camp) or come home so he is out of his routine. Yesterday was a CLEAR example of what a break in routine will do for someone with Dementia and Alzheimer’s, not to mention my grandmother’s death really messed up his routine. 

Finding The Blessing In Dementia: Dementia Diaries

When my son and I arrived yesterday he was eating in the dining hall and when I said, “hi gramp!” He just looked right through me and said nothing.

I thought for a half a second, “oh no, he doesn’t know me” (I am preparing myself for that day trust me….I have a plan though for when/if that happens….will share more on that later).

He then said in a serious voice, “I am beat to death, my ass is killing me from sitting on the tractor all morning and working in the gardens. Do you know how hot it is outside?” 

Finding The Blessing In Dementia: Dementia Diaries

Now imagine my 11 years olds face (as we are standing there bundled up in our heavy winter coats, snow boots and hats) and expression when this came out of his great-grandfather’s mouth (he knows Big Gramp has Dementia and he finds the things he says funny). I had all I could do but to not laugh and honestly, it was so far fetched that I thought he was teasing me and joking around. I didn’t respond because I wanted to see what he would say next. For the next 10 minutes we just went along with what he was talking about and while it was complete crazy talk, he was happy he was working. He was happy he was tired from being on the tractor. He was happy he had more work to get done.

That my friends is a huge blessing. 

I just sat there thinking to myself, “he would DIE if he knew how messed up he was.” -ha. 

Finding The Blessing In Dementia: Dementia Diaries

I went to speak with the nurse on duty and they told me that he had been out of it for most of the day. He was all over the place with his thoughts. The nurse came and had lunch with us to monitor him and after about 10-15 minutes of being with my son and I, he came back to reality and was back to being in the present. We called my aunt and he wished her a happy birthday ( he knew it was her birthday) and he was joking with her on the phone and back to being his normal self. After about 20 minutes of being in the present, he drifted back to being exhausted from working in the garden and could barely keep his eyes open. He was back to being confused. When I started to wheel him back to his room, he asked, “am I in a wheel chair?” He thought he was on a tractor. The strangest thing happened though. I left the Nursing Home for the first time in 9 months, since we admitted him as a long term resident, not feeling sad or angry that he was stuck there. I didn’t have the sick feeling in my stomach every time I leave. Before I left, I wheeled him down to his room, grabbed his dirty clothes to bring home for washing and he was content in his wheel chair to take a nap. He said he had already put in a full days work and needed to rest so he could get up early again tomorrow and get back to work. He was happy! As crazy as that sounds, I was happy too! Finding the Blessing in Dementia isn’t easy but when you live it with a loved one, you must find it. They are there, you just need to look for them. To be continued…..

PS. Thank you for the comments on yesterday’s post about How to Avoid the Sweater Fit Dilemma. 

 

 

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13 Comments

  1. It is very hard to come to grips with your loved one being happy in their little world. We found that to be a blessing with my mom’s dementia. My dad died 9 months before my mom. She had always depended on hm so much. He even moved into her room at the nursing home. But she never understood he was gone. She would call for him, but when he didn’t come she never got upset. I guess she just figured he didn’t hear her. He was very hard of hearing.????

  2. It actually is a blessing, so much nicer than having a loved one agitated. My mom always thought she was with loved ones from her childhood. Bless his heart and your family. These days will be treasures in your memories.

  3. Cyndy Serdar says:

    I am happy that you have found that place with your Grandpa. I remember finding it with my Mom and it is sort of freeing and it is as if you don’t worry about them in the same way. They being cared for in a great facility, they have you coming to take them out for a while and they are so loved. I wish you the best with the situation and that a you find a piece of peace once in a while.

  4. I had my Dad at home with me and my biggest regret is not “going with the flow” earlier. At times I felt hopeless or embarrassed–but when I got to the point that–if he is happy just be with him–I felt the relief. Even though I still had my sad crying moments—I also found joy and laughter. I was blessed that within the 18 months that Hospice stood by “our” sides Dad never not knew who I was. Only once he looked at me and called me by my Mom’s name–she had passed about 6 years before. but almost immediately he said–no you’re Lin–you just look so much like your Mom!

    My prayers are always with you and your family as you travel this strange journey. Thank you for sharing and may you continued to be blessed.

  5. A teacher I worked with, her mom had Alzheimer’s and she said the same thing, she learned to just go with whatever they’re talking about too. Her mom would also often think she was at work and thought her daughter worked just right around the corner and stopped in to have lunch together on their lunch breaks. I’m glad you were able to leave with some peace knowing he was happy.

  6. Your story of your Grandpa is beautifully written and tells a story so many of us remember. My Dad had Parkinson’s and every day was a new adventure without knowing what we would find. Take every moment and cherish whatever he has to offer. He is at peace and you have him by your side to love and play along. As long as he is not in physical pain he is ok. Keep him happy with visits and stories and enjoy his twinkle in his eyes. He loves you all.

    1. Thank you Joan, most of the time I feel good (unless he is agitated) but yes, trying to enjoy what’s left is the goal. Thank you again 🙂

  7. I love this. My mother in law has Alzheimer’s and sometimes my husband and I just have to laugh at some of the things his mom says. She doesn’t recognize my husband which was a very hard day last summer. Instead, she thought he was the caterer for a small graduation party my in-laws hosted. So sometimes I will tell my husband we need to order in because the caterer was a no-show. Find the smile! Thank you. laura

    1. Yes exactly! Find the Smile , I like that 🙂 Good luck with your mother in law, I am dreading the day my grandfather doesn’t recognize me ;(

  8. Anonymous says:

    Enjoying your blog, but finding it impossible to read the links without hovering over them, a nuisance since I read fast and don’t want to track with my mouse as I read. Will your software permit you to write the links in something brighter than pale yellow?

    Thanks for considering this suggestion.

    1. What do you mean, read the links? You mean you want to see the name of the linked topic in the post you are reading?

  9. Jessica, thank you for sharing! I like your way of thinking. You are brave when needed and you also know the time to let it go, to let it be…
    kisses ML