Visiting a Grandma with Alzheimer’s Disease

 

Yesterday while my two youngest children were asleep I decided to take my oldest to visit her Grandmother.  I sadly have not been able to visit my mom twice in one week in quite some time and figured it was the perfect opportunity.
On the way I picked up some ice cream for the three of us to enjoy together.  One thing my mom has always LOVED is ice cream.  My daughter and I have also seemed to have inheretated that gene.  🙂
Before arriving at my mom’s facility I had a little talk with my daughter about Grandma.  It had been a while since it had just been the three of us and since I didn’t have her brother and sister with us, I knew we would be spending more time with just my mom.  Usually “the talk” involves me telling her about how Grandma is sick and may act different, but that we still love her very much.  I have no clue what to say and honestly never thought in a million years I would have to have this talk with my 3 year old child!
My daughter was initially all about Grandma.  Interacting with her, hugs, kisses and singing her songs. As the hour or so wore on Addy started to become afraid of Grandma.  Mom’s erratic behavior and her not making any sense was making her nervous.  At one point my daughter said, “Mommy Grandma talks like Evie!”  Evie is my two year old daughter.  For the last year or so my mom has also decided she hate shoes and takes them off every opportunity she can get.  Addy was not happy when I had to explain to her that it was ok for Grandma to have one shoe, but she had to leave hers on.
There was also an “incident” while we were there that really put the icing on the cake.  I had gotten napkins with our ice cream and had them on the table.  Here recently the facility has been struggling because my mom has been “pocketing” things/food/you name it.  The problem with that is the fear of aspiration.  Mom could easily choke on objects and it is a serious risk.  She also is having problems swallowing and eating, but that story is for another day.
I turned around for one minute and by time I realized it she had eaten almost an entire napkin!  My first reaction was to look to the left at my daughter.  The look on her face broke my heart.  My focus then turned back to my mom and the fact that I needed to get it out of her mouth!  I tried to open it and she refused.  I tricked her into saying “Ahhh” and tried to fish it out and CHOMP!  She bit me!  This really didn’t go over well with Adalynn.  She was then super concerned that her mommy was hurt.  My heart was torn in half.  Help my mom and this large ball that she was now chewing or comfort my young daughter who was now terrified that Grandma bit her mom.
I quickly jumped up and grabbed a few staff members and explained what happened.  Long story short it took FIVE of them to get mom restrained enough to get in her mouth open and get the large ball of napkin out.  All the while she was screaming and hollering “NO, NO, NO PLEASE DON’T!”  Addy was done.  Officially terrified.
We left soon after and my heart broke all over again for my mom.  Here she was at 66 years old, not able to enjoy her Granddaughter and at this moment in time scared her to death.  When we walked out the door my mom gave me a precious goodbye that left me and many of the workers in tears.  I am learning that seeing her more often and when I don’t have all 3 children help her to connect with me.  My precious daughter however did not want to say goodbye or even hug her Grandmother.
Today my daughter was still talking about Grandma and the napkin incident.  My prayer is that the Lord gives me the right words to speak to her and that the memories that the does have with her Grandmother are good ones because my mom deserves that.  My job is to make sure all of my children know what an incredibly strong and loving woman their Grandmother was and to do everything in my God given abilities to fight this horrid disease!
Blessings,
Tk