the hard stuff

My grandmother has Alzheimer’s. It started about 15 years ago. At least, that’s what I estimate. I was 15 the first time I noticed that she was lost. She picked me up from school; I stayed late for some after school activity, probably art club or something, and missed the bus. I was hungry and she took me to the McDonald’s down the street to pick up a snack. When we got back in the car, she didn’t know where she was or what she was doing there. I had to show her how to get back home. She was fine after that. My mom passed it off as age, exhaustion after a long day. But then it started to happen again, at random. Eventually we knew something was off.

There’s no way to stop it and it only gets worse. I lived with my mom and gran growing up, there was no day when she wasn’t around. She’s always been difficult. She’s always been hard to understand and a little cold towards my mom. Now, she’s aggressive and mean. She’s angry and irrational. When I moved out, I knew that I was leaving my mom in a tough situation, but I knew that I couldn’t stay. It was a hard choice. I was ready to move on, even knowing that my mom needed help to deal with my grandmother’s dementia. It’s getting harder. My mom’s health is poor. She’s retiring because she can’t work and take care of my grandmother anymore, but she also can’t take care of her without suffering herself. My grandmother’s actions stress her out and are making her own health deteriorate. Meanwhile, I’m unable to offer any kind of real help. There’s so little that can be done and no money for outside help. It’s hard to age when you’re poor and even worse when you’re unable to take care of yourself or those you love.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. I worry for them both and there is no easy solution. My mom was in tears when I called to check in on her this morning; she was crying because my grandmother was acting out again. It’s hard to feel kind towards my grandmother knowing that she’s never been kind to my mom, and that makes me feel even worse. The thought of having to put her in care hurts, but it may come down to it if it means taking the pressure off my mom. There’s no easy out.

I just needed to put this into words.

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Author: gricel d.

writer. librarian. cat lady.

2 thoughts on “the hard stuff”

  1. Oh, goodness, I know exactly where you’re coming from and I sympathize so much. My grandfather went through something very similar, with a combination of alzheimer’s and parkinson’s and dementia that started around the OJ trial and got progressively worse until he passed in 2007. He went from being this funloving, outgoing kind of guy to paranoid and aggressive, and my grandmother, cousin, and several aunts had full time jobs taking care of them because they didn’t want to put him in care. I really, really sympathize. If you ever need to just talk, you’re welcome to write.

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