How can I be the best granddaughter I can now that my dear grandmother's health is in decline?
May 17, 2011 12:15 PM Subscribe
How can I be the best granddaughter possible now that my dear grandmother's health is in decline?
posted by lovableiago to human relations (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This may very well have been covered before, but I couldn't find anything for it; please feel free to point me in the right direction.
My grandma is 86--we've always been close and I've lived within an hour of her (if not 10 minutes) pretty much my whole life. Though her age is getting up there, her health has always been relatively very good (with the exception of diabetes, which she's managed with diet change). She lives alone in a two-story house and has a little dog that is the love of her life, and she seems to take care of both with no problem. She "can" still drive, although we've all encouraged her not to and avoid letting it happen because she's done some scary/reckless stuff in the car as a result of the following factors: In the past year or so, her hearing and eyesight has started to decline, as well as her memory (for example, every time I see her she'll ask "what is it that [I] do again?" [for work], and things about my boyfriend like whether he has any brothers or sisters and where his parents live [we've been together over two years and I have this conversation with her almost every time I see her]). My mom finds it particularly strange/troubling that she seems to randomly recall memories of when she [my grandma] was little (down to the name of their next-door-neighbor] but doesn't talk about when my mom was little or tell stories from even when *I* was little (it's not that we're self-centered and upset she doesn't talk about our childhoods--it just seems weird that she remembers stuff from 80 years ago but not 10 years ago).
Newest development: She broke her hip last week (was in the backyard and tripped while stepping up on to the brick patio from the grass). She (and the whole family) were hoping that this was just a minor set-back--that she would have to spend a month or so in rehabilitation and then could go back to her house, probably moving in to the downstairs bedroom for ease of living. However, my mom and uncles have reached the conclusion (through talking to her doctors I assume) that she will not ever be able to go back to her house; rather, she will have to spend the "rest of her days" in an assisted living home, which breaks my heart more than I can even say.
At the moment, she's in a rehabilitation center for the hip thing--I'll be going to see her tomorrow. I'm really worried about my grandma's mental health now more than anything. My mom said that since she's been in the hospital it seems like her memory has really taken a nosedive; I thought maybe it was because of the trauma but my mom thinks that because my grandma is a pretty smart lady she's just been able to hide it a lot better until now. Also, I'm pretty sure she's depressed--because of her age, she's seen most of her friends die (my grandpa died about six years ago) and I think she feels like she doesn't have much left to live for...my mom has said she's made comments like, "I wish I would just die..." I am just wondering if there is anything I can do, in addition to visiting and just *being there*...I was thinking maybe I could bring pictures of family and friends from her house to have at the rehab center...? What else?? I just keep thinking, "Jesus, if I was already depressed because all my friends were gone and then I broke my hip and realized I'd have to spend the rest of my life living in assisted living..." I don't know what someone could say to make ME feel better! Sorry this is so long; I'm very sad about this and my thoughts aren't very structured--this is the first time I've ever really had to deal with something like this (and yes, I realize I'm lucky that she is still alive). Any words of wisdom would be so appreciated--my mom is also having a very hard time with this so if you've ever had a parent in this situation I would very much appreciate knowing what the best way to deal with it would be...