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Watching my grandfather slowly die from dementia has changed me

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A quick update on my grandfather. Watching my grandfather slowly die from dementia has changed me. I look at aging and life in general, completely different now. Maybe it’s just because I am in my mid-40’s now and people are starting pass on. I feel more thankful for my health. It’s amazing what happens when you watch someone fail. I know I haven’t shared lately here on the blog but I have been sharing more on my personal Facebook page that is now public if you want to friend or follow me there. Just leave a note that you are a blog reader. 

Grandfather and granddaughter at nursing home

My grandfather started on Hospice earlier this week so that he could get additional care. Hospice has an incredible staff that lends support and extra ‘hands on” attention which he needs. 

grandfather with cane in kitchen | Multigenerational Home

He is for the most part, living in a vegetative state in and out of various forms of reality. He spent the entire time I saw him yesterday with his eyes closed but talking to me. In fact, he told me my hands were to damn cold to be touching him. -haha. I giggled at him and said, “I am glad the cranky gramp is still in there!” He was completely out of it but gave me a tiny little kiss on my cheek when I put my face down to his to say good-bye. 

Watching my grandfather slowly die from dementia has changed me

Grandfather with roses

A few days ago he was completely wide awake and basically told me I needed to leave 10 minutes after I got there because he was too busy to stop and “fart around” with me. -ha. 

Happy grandfather smiling

In his mind, he was working and cleaning out a barn. In fact, he gave me three boxes to take home and sort through so he didn’t have to do it. The boxes were invisible mind you and the secretary giggled as she watched me take the 3 invisible boxes from him.

grandfather and granddaughter in foyer

You guys, it’s totally crazy what the disease of dementia does to the brain!

I am hoping my grandfather has a few more moments of clarity and I can have a few more conversations with him before he slips away even further. The nursing home changed up his meds a bit because he was becoming irritated and aggravated with things he thought he was seeing but were not real. He would try to shimmy out of his wheel chair but had no idea his legs didn’t work anymore. The new medication to keep him calm makes him very sleepy. I miss my gramp. My old gramp. The gramp who was my side kick for the last few years, before the dementia took over.  

 

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28 Comments

  1. neuroticmom says:

    I am so sorry you are going through this. I too am faced with a parent with dementia. It is so sad to see them slip away. I don’t live in the same state as my mom and when I call she usually doesn’t know who I am – my brother has to keep reminding her. My prayers are with you and your family as you to struggle with this senseless disease.

    1. That must be so hard for you with your mom! It’s so hard to wrap my head around how the brain just turns to mush….literally. Thank you for commenting <3

  2. Thank you for the update. My family has been through the same with my grandmother and I can completely relate. It’s very hard on everyone

    1. Thank you Kristina and I am sorry about your gram :(. My grandfather would be mortified if he really knew what was going on with him…..I guess that is the one comforting thing, 9/10 he doesn’t know how bad he really is.

  3. Juanita in OH says:

    Oh, Jessica, I am praying for you and the entire family. I know how difficult this is and I wish all of you much LOVE and strength at this difficult time. Your Grandpa has such a wonderful smile and aura about him. God be with everyone and hang in there. Cyber hugs.
    PS. Isn”t this about the same time you Gram passed last year, or will it be two years, I can’t remember?

    1. Thank you Juanita! My gram passed 1 year ago this month. The night before Thanksgiving. It’s amazing how much he has failed since she passed.

  4. I’m so sorry for u n ur family. Watching a family member go thru this is horrible. Your family has been blessed with having ur grandparents in their lives for so long. Cherish these remaining moments.

    1. Thank you kate! I appreciate that <3 . It's hard to believe that we started this journey living together over 11 years ago and sharing with all of you 7 years ago.

  5. I’m sorry your family is facing this terrible disease. My mother is also going through this. She fell a couple of weeks ago and broke her shoulder and dislocated her hip, so she is now in the nursing home and will not be able to go back to her house. Some days she is lucid and others days she just cries. It is a terrible, cruel disease. Blessings to you and your family.

    1. Oh geez I am so sorry Carol :(. I hope your mom will heal and is ok. Thank you for your sweet comment about my gramp 🙂

  6. Karen Mullins says:

    So sorry hear this. My Aunt is 87, never been sick a day in her life, no medications until last year when she started having hallucinations.
    She has been on a downward spiral since then and is now in the lockdown memory care unit. So sad to see.
    She, like your Gramps was always active doing housework, projects, traveling, etc.
    It’s hard when someone you ‘ve known all your life is declining in health.
    I love that you go see your Gramps and make the most of whats happening with him and enjoy your time with him. So blessed to have him in your life. Prayers him and your family.

  7. The pain of watching a loved one lose him or herself is very hard. It seems most of your readers have gone through or are in the midst of a similar experience. I know I have several times. I will pray for you and your family to continue to have strength and to find a peace that passes all understanding during this difficult time.

  8. I’m sorry that all of this is so hard! I’ll keep praying for you. It made me giggle though when you took the invisible boxes from him and that it made the secretary laugh too. Not only are you being a great granddaughter, you’re also blessing the staff at the place he’s staying at. I’m sure they appreciate all that you and your family do for your grandfather. I hope he has more moments of clarity when you visit. How sweet that he gave you a kiss on your cheek!

  9. Cheryl Autrey says:

    Jessica, my prayers are with you and your family as all of you go through this Aweful Disease. I have a Dear Friend that is going through this and it just breaks my heart to watch her Precious Daughters seeing their mom through this. I have given them your name and think it will mean a lot to them to read what you are going through. My mom has the early stages of it. Thank you again for sharing such a personal time in your life with all of us.just know that we all Love you and keeping the prayers coming. Cheryl.

  10. Debi Padgett says:

    So sorry your family is going through this terrible struggle. I can only imagine how hard it is for you to see him like this. You are a wonderful granddaughter to stick by him even though it is difficult. You never know when he might have just a glimmer of recognition. The kiss on the cheek brought me to tears. Take care….

  11. My dad had Dementia and I watched him slowly slip away…until he was only the shell of the man he once was. Five long years of changes and sadness. Rejoice in the happy memories…prayers and hugs.

  12. I’m so sorry, Jessica. We lost my grandpa 3 years ago after a 10+ year battle with Alzheimer’s. It must be hard to see him like that, but I giggled at you carrying the imaginary boxes. You’re so sweet and good to him! He is fortunate to have had you around, taking care of him all these years! Your family and grandpa will be in my prayers.

    One of my uncles put it beautifully. My grandpa was a STRONG, TOUGH guy, yet had a fear of death all his life. At times I felt sad or even angry he was going though this disease. Looking back, it was so peaceful. His mind faded away first, so he didn’t even know to be scared. He was here being loved up until the last days with absolutely no fear. He brought us all closer together and when he left us, we were at peace.

    I will keep praying, thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    1. Thank you Ann Marie! I know exactly what you mean when you say, ‘his mind faded away” as that is one thing that is comforting, knowing that he (I hope) doesn’t really know what’s going on with him. He was always so in charge of his own life and so dependent, he would be absolutely mortified and MAD if he knew what had happened to him. Sounds like you have wonderful memories too o you grampa 🙂 It’s so important to remember the good times ❤️

  13. Debra Ruffing says:

    I have always lovedyour family stories. We are akso now at 3 generations one roof. Meeting you changed me…I became more comfortable with being with family mostly and not being the girl who ran around in charge of everything at school, church, etc. I am still missing my oarents so much and grieving that my grandchildren are so misstreated by my daughters ex father to her two children. We have all suffered so much…emotionally, physically, with our health. I have had one illness after another since this happened. I know it has not been long since your grandma died so this is now complicated grief…missing both of them. Take care of your health. I did not know I would not sleep and have so many health problems from grief. ???????? And hugs.

    1. It’s been nice to meet you too! I am sorry things are tough for you and your family right now. A Day at a time I always say!! 🙂 Thank you for your kind words about my grandparents and our family 🙂

  14. I am so sorry! We went through this with my father-in-law and it is just the worst. Praying for him and all of you.

  15. Hi Jess! I’m yr reader from Brazil and I just asked u to add me on FB. Will be glad if u accept! If not, don’t worry, I know how hard things are. Hope u’r getting well w all yr grandfather dementia! kisses ML

  16. mickie mclaughlin says:

    Such a sad post today. Knowing it will only get worse makes it doubly difficult. I cannot believe it has already been a year since your Gram passed. You know that has contributed to his decline also. I love his smile and seeing photos of you with him. Hug him extra often as it will be over much too soon. Prayers for your family.

  17. Having lost my dad this year to this disease I understand your pain. Continue to find laughter wherever you can. I can’t say enough about our experience with hospice – they were a lifeline if support but most importantly were our dad’s strongest advocates to keep him comfortable through the very end. They helped family members through the excruciating end of life phase and fought hard to get our dad the peace he deserved in the end. Very special people.

  18. I’ve just finished reading your posts about dementia. Aside from how I felt reading them I believe it was good that I did, I often wonder what my adult kids do not share with me about how they are handling their dad (my husband) and his dementia. My husband has young onset dementia, he was in his mid forties when he was diagnosed. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I am sorry to hear about your husband 🙁 It’s a horrible disease and can be very difficult to watch. Happy you found some insight in the post 🙂