- Aging & Longevity
Granny's Decline 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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