My grandmother is 89 years old and she’s always been strong and clever and accomplished. I’ve lived with her for five years already and I never really noticed great big changes about her. It’s only when family comes to visit and they point it out that I am able to take a step back and go “huh. You’re right, she is more frail than she used to be.”
But the last couple of years have changed it. Sure, she’s old but I feel like living with her gives me a front-row seat to her deterioration. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a year ago but her moments of forgetfulness always felt like it was more old age than anything. The last few months, the shaking has started and even I’ve gotten used to that.
But she was hospitalized a week ago for mild pneumonia, just as a precaution. When she got back from the hospital, things changed really fast. The day after she came back, it felt like her mind had just taken a huge blow. There’s dementia (a horrible terrible sounding word) but worse, that could just be a symptom of Alzheimer’s, I don’t know
I have always known and accepted the fact that she is pretty old and that she’s had an incredible life. I just never thought it would hit me this hard to see my grandmother go through this. She is so smart and so clever. And then to have her suddenly wake up and sit up at 9pm on a July and say she wants to go shopping before Bisita Iglesia? Or to suddenly see her hands moving and working at something or feeding herself with imaginary food or talking to people that aren’t there?
The worst moment was soothing her after she worked herself up thinking she had an imaginary errand she just had to do. I finally calmed her down enough so that she didn’t feel she had to leave the house and got her talking about her children when they were teenagers. And suddenly, in the middle of her story, she just stopped and started saying random words in a connected pattern. Not sentences, just words. “Square rectangle box pyramid triangle.” And then after a minute of just words, she went into another story.
That was hard. That made me excuse myself to shut myself in my room and just cry at the unfairness and pain of it all. I don’t want to see dementia as the mind deteriorates. I don’t want to see how Alzheimer’s is discovered. I want my dignified, classy grandmother to go the way she has lived all her life. I want her not to feel that this is happening to her while she is helpless at curbing the progression.
I don't want to see what it's like at the end of the road
Abbi is a petite human, blogger, amateur photographer, permanent humanitarian, avid traveller, culture addict, giant bookworm and impossible foodie.