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Aging relatives and being sad

I had the most wonderful bridal shower yesterday. All of my (local) family, FI's (local) family, lots of friends, coworkers, etc. It was amazing.

My gramma was there. I'm very lucky- she's 93, in great health, mobile, etc. She's also got dementia and bad hearing. She's too vain for a hearing aid and her memory is gone. My aunt had a great way of explaining it- she's lost her filter and her judgment.

My gramma was a smart, active, woman. She used worked until she was forced to retire at 75 then got active with multiple charities and political causes. She used to go to every classical music concert, visit friends everywhere, travel the world, read everything and I adored her.

My mom and I drove her to the shower and she kept asking where we were going- then getting mad at my mom because my mother clearly forgot to tell her where she was taking her. That made me sad. She kept calling me by my niece's name. That kinda hurt. It broke my heart when I read the card on her gift- she signed it as "Auntie." (My mom buys all gifts on behalf of my gramma but has her write out the cards).

My friend just called me this morning to tell me that my gramma- the little Russian Jewish lady who used to get arrested while fighting for civil rights asked our (black) friend if she lived in Englewood (a Chicago neighborhood that's one of the US's most dangerous places). She said that our friend handled it gracefully but was clearly upset. The friend who called thought I should know. It sounds like she was very conflicted on how to handle the situation but decided she should tell me. I need to give her a call today but I'm still pondering what I should say. I've got a call into my mom for advice. In the meantime, I'm sick to my stomach.

@pinkshort's post and the following responses about grandparents has weighed heavily. Getting old is awful.
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Re: Aging relatives and being sad

  • Sending you lots of hugs. We're in a similar situation with my grandma and it's so hard to watch.
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  • I hear ya...my dad's 60 with fairly advanced dementia, MS, and a recent history of strokes.

    He's gone downhill substantially in the past 2-3 years and it's sad to think we don't know how much longer we have but we know it's not long.

    I'm just full of sunshine today :(

    I think I'm going to go to bed now.
  • Hugs to you all. My great aunt had Alzheimer's, and while us kids only knew her after the Alzheimer's had set in, my mom and her cousin were devastated. 

    Holy crap, @LDay2014. I'm so sorry. My dad is the same age as yours. I'm not sure what I'd do if we were in your situation. All the hugs. 

    My grandmother is 87, and although mentally she is just about fully there, physically she struggles. She's had two knee replacement surgeries, and they are beginning to seriously fail her. She's in one of those scooter chairs just about 24/7, and she fought with it pretty hard in the gravel at my cousin's barn wedding this spring. I worry that if we go to the beach (which was until VERY recently our primary thought) she won't be able to get around at all. And since she is one of the very few people I feel like I have to have at my wedding for it to be complete, it's becoming a major concern for us.
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  • @wandajune6 that's always so upsetting to see someone you love behaving in a way that you are not used to. Sending you happy thoughts!

    @LDay2014 my mom is almost 60 with MS, she doesn't have dementia but she had pneumonia last year and never quite came back from it mentally.
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  • "@pinkshort's post and the following responses about grandparents has weighed heavily. Getting old is awful."

    It beats the alternative.
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  • CMGragain said:
    "@pinkshort's post and the following responses about grandparents has weighed heavily. Getting old is awful."

    It beats the alternative.
    Thank you for that...Sometimes you need that little reminder :) better to grow old than die young.
  • CMGragain said:
    "@pinkshort's post and the following responses about grandparents has weighed heavily. Getting old is awful."

    It beats the alternative.
    You are absolutely right. Thank you for the perspective check. I needed that.
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  • I went through that too when my grandparents passed. Now I work in a skilled nursing facility, and I see families dealing with it all the time. I think the best thing to do is to be patient and always tell her its okay if she doesn't remember. Enjoy your time with her! Dementia sucks ASSS. HUGS
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  • larrygaga said:
    I went through that too when my grandparents passed. Now I work in a skilled nursing facility, and I see families dealing with it all the time. I think the best thing to do is to be patient and always tell her its okay if she doesn't remember. Enjoy your time with her! Dementia sucks ASSS. HUGS

    First off, thank you!

    How do you handle it when she doesn't acknowledge it? We all get accused of lying to her, stealing from her, etc. all the time. She makes up endless stories and facts to fill in blanks. We understand: she's confused about what's going on and also likes to feel like she's contributing to conversations. She's much nicer to my sister and I than she is to my mother, which makes things easier for us.

    She's still normally quite entertaining with her anecdotes and grandmotherly-ness, she just gets most facts wrong. FI and FSS know that they should take anything she says with a grain of salt (FSS got very confused when she told him that I was born in Russia, etc.) She's always liked attention so this is the natural next step. Her comments to my friend yesterday caught me off guard because it's a sign of just how much has changed.

    My great-grandmother and great aunt (gramma's mom and sister) both died from complications with Alzheimer's and my grandfather (her ex-husband) is in early stages too. It's interesting seeing the comparison: my grandfather is still sharp but can't find the words he wants while my grandmother is losing touch with the world but can still talk up a storm.

    Typing this just makes me realize that I miss my gramma.

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  • Aww, I'm sorry. My grandmother started slipping into dementia about 6 years ago it was terrible and very hard for my aunt who became her primary caregiver. Similar to your gramma, mine would also make up stories and or accuse others to fill in the blanks in her own memory - it is terrible. My other grandmother while mentally sharp as a tack at 97 was just failing physically. The first time she met DH (FI at the time) she looked him square in the eyes and said "She's a good cook and a good housekeeper, but she's stubborn so she'll keep you on your toes!" She had me pegged pretty well ;-) She had been married to my grandpa for 60+ years before he passed away from Alzheimers so she knew a few things about what it takes to make a marriage last. Neither one of them was well enough to travel by the time we started planning our wedding so I had resigned myself to them not being there but it was a very hard hit when my first grandmother passed away two months before the wedding and my second passed away a month before. We continued with the wedding because we knew that was what they would want and I know they were watching from heaven. One of the most meaningful things I received was a wedding card from my family that my grandmother had signed before she passed away - I will cherish it always! I'm sorry you and your family are going through this - it is not easy to watch your loved ones fade either mentally or physically. Praying for you all.
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  • I had paragraphs I promise...
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  • Thank you!

    I'm very lucky- both grandparents will be attending my wedding. My gramma's independent-ish and living in senior housing but has a part-time caregiver/helper who has become such a part of the family that she will be attending with her husband. We wanted her to come as a guest and not feel obligated to work so we asked her for help finding someone that we could hire to help her out so my mom wouldn't feel responsible for her. My gramma was angry when she heard because she thought my mom should be at her side all night but my mom is thrilled. And, to be honest, that matters more to me right now. While the wedding hasn't happened yet, I think this might prove to be the best $200 I've spent all year!

    My grandfather (they've been divorced 30 years) will be flying in with his second wife's daughter (I think? I haven't met her) to help him.
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