Granny's Decline with Alzheimer's Disease

Before Alzheimer's Disease
Before Alzheimer's Disease
Map of Alzheimer's Disease
Map of Alzheimer's Disease
Comparison of Brains with and without Alzheiemer's Disease
Comparison of Brains with and without Alzheiemer's Disease
In the Nursing Home
In the Nursing Home
Talking to Someone with Alzheimer's Disease
Talking to Someone with Alzheimer's Disease
The Hopelessness of Alzheimer's Disease
The Hopelessness of Alzheimer's Disease
Pitiful with Alzheimer's Disease
Pitiful with Alzheimer's Disease

Picking Radios From the Neighbor's Apple Tree

Granny was an amazing woman. She was intelligent. She was creative. She loved Braves baseball. She was articulate. She enjoyed life and was always laughing. She believed in working hard. Granny grew the most beautiful iris flowers I have ever seen. She never met a stranger. Granny was my idol and I should be so lucky to be like her when I grew up.

From the few stories, I've heard, Granny lived through an abusive marriage to an alcoholic. Her strength and courage were unrivaled. My Granny lived to help others in spite of or maybe because of her life's adveristy. It didn't matter if it was a family member or stranger in need. My granny wanted to live each day as much as possible. She embraced and embodied the joy, the gift of living.

The callous imprisonment of the devastating Alzheimer's Disease seemed to happen overnight. Granny fell and broke her pelvis. I think that is when anyone in the family first started to realize that Granny was no longer who she had always been.

Alzheimer's Disease is a form of dimentia that robs the brain of function causing changes in behavior, thinking, and especially memory. PubMedHealth offers a simple explanation of what Alzheimer's Disease is. When nerve cells (neurons) are destroyed, there is a decrease in the chemicals that help nerve cells send messages to one another (called neurotransmitters). As a result, areas of the brain that normally work together become disconnected.

Alzheimer's Disease can include symptoms like misplacing items, loss of social skills and losing awareness of who you are.

Granny had to be placed in a nursing home soon after her pelvis was broken. She required care my family could not give her and she definitely could not give herself. Granny would forget to eat or take a bath. She did not remeber how to use the toilet. We are so thankful the nursing home she moved to could take care of her.

Granny did not recognize her family after some time dealing with Alzheimer's except for my dad, her only son of five children. She thought dad's children were still little even though at this time, my younger brother was married and had two young children of his own. We would try to talk to Granny showing her family photographs explaining who everyone was to her. I think that was more to make us feel better. We would try to engage Granny by turning the Braves game on television. She did not remember she liked baseball.

On one visit, it was just me and my boyfriend of the time. We were asking questions about her childhood. We knew she remembered some of that. Granny was telling us about her sister and some chores they had to do. One of the other nursing home residents comes into Granny's room at that moment to measure a dress she had been working on for me and to ask us if we could stay for supper. We didn't know her. She left before we could even give her an answer. I think she suffered with Alzheimer's as well.

Granny continued explaining about her childhood and how she used to pick radios from the neighbor's apple tree. We did not try to tell her that was impossible. We instead told her how neat we thought that was because we knew picking technology from a fruit tree was reality to Granny.

On another visit, I showed Granny my new engagement ring. She knew what that meant. I could tell because she smiled. She did not remember meeting the boyfriend and I am not sure she knew who I was. Granny became concerned spiders were crawling on her and asked me to look at her back to make sure to get them off.

There is no cure for Alzheimer's Disease. Granny lost her life to the vicious Alzheimer's Disease. Everyone diagnosed with Alzheimer's does. Treatment is to slow the progression of the destruction through drug therapy and to manage the associated behavior changes such as agitation or depression.

After diagnosis, Alzheimer's patients can live another twenty years. Most though do not. The progression rate and complications are different for each person diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. A healthcare provider can explain more in depth pertaining to a particular patient.

Caregivers for Alzheimer's patients should seek the help of others through support groups. This cruel, life-sucking disease is harder on the family than on the patient.

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Comments 12 comments

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

This was such a Sad, but Heart Warming Hub Icbenefield. Alzheimer's is such a Heart Breaking Disease for the families. I've often thought I'd want to just go peacefully to sleep and Not suffer the pain and loss of Memories of my Loved ones. Thanks for sharing, believe me I truly understand having watched a similar story with my dear Mother-in-law and her stay at Nursing Homes (3) to be exact.


lcbenefield profile image

lcbenefield 5 years ago from Georgia Author

B, thanks for reading. I am sorry for the experience you went through with your mother-in-law. I agree with you. Going to sleep sounds much better than living and not knowing your own family. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

Well written hub about Alzheimer's which is difficult on family members as well as patients.

I like the way you listened to Granny's stories about the past: "Granny continued explaining about her childhood and how she used to pick radios from the neighbor's apple tree. We did not try to tell her that was impossible. We instead told her how neat we thought that was because we knew picking technology from a fruit tree was reality to Granny."

It is frustrating to try to bring an Alzheimer's patient into our reality, far more satisfying for both patient and ourselves to instead meet the patient in their reality and show respectful interest in their stories. Sometimes their stories can even entertain us far more than expected if we can learn to just go with the flow or prompt them with questions about things that happened to them years ago. Their long term memory can be surprisingly intact. It's the short term memory which is the first to go.


lcbenefield profile image

lcbenefield 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Happy, thanks for stoping by and commenting. Granny had a neat alternative reality when stricken with Alzheimer's. Listening to her stories and never correcting her was the only way we could connect with her any more.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

It seems like you instinctively found the key to meaningful connection. I'm sure she enjoyed telling those stories to an attentive audience and it's obvious that you enjoyed her "neat alternative reality".

She looks so beautiful and friendly in the photo.


lcbenefield profile image

lcbenefield 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Granny was always a people person, happyboomernurse. Everyone called her granny. She loved people. That's the way I remember her.


TattooKitty profile image

TattooKitty 5 years ago from Hawaii

My Grammybird was also taken by Alzheimer's disease. Thankfully, both of our beloved grandmothers are in a better place now...and they're probably relishing in the ability to bake, watch the Braves, and smile down upon us ;)


lcbenefield profile image

lcbenefield 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Tattookitty, thanks for reading. I am so sorry for your loss of Grammybird. By the way, what an awesome name to call your grandmother. I still miss my Granny every day. One day, we will be reunited. I appreciate your comments.


lucybell21 profile image

lucybell21 5 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

Though I don't work in a nursing home, I work in a home for independent seniors and I have lost 2 of my dear people to this disease. We could no longer have them living at the home. Now I have another sweet gentleman who is in his 80's and he has become very forgetful, and does many odd things. I knew these folks before the got this terrible disease and to watch them go down hill was just so sad.


lcbenefield profile image

lcbenefield 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Lucy, I am sorry for your losses. You do get attached when working in that type of environment. It is sad to watch them disappear due to Alzheimer's. Thanks for reading. I appreciate the thoughtful comment.


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

Thank you for sharing about your beautiful Granny with us.. I can only imagine how it must feel to see someone you love and who you have known your whole life change like that. My husbands grandmother was diagnosed last year and she's progressively getting worse too.. though she isn't to the point of not knowing family yet. Thank you again, voting up and useful.


lcbenefield profile image

lcbenefield 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Jamie, Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I am sorry about your husband's grandmother's diagnosis. Even if she gets to the point of not knowing her family, her family will still know her. I appreciate the votes.

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