Love, Life Stories

My grandmother is losing her stories to dementia – and it hurts to watch

It hurts to know she will never get better - only worse.

My grandmother used to tell me stories of her fighting against the patriarchy with three children.

Around 1970, she left her marriage to start a better life.

She would tell me stories of working many minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet for her kids. Working over fifty hours a week, she was the breadwinner for her family.

[bctt tweet=”Sometimes she talks in circles because she can’t find the word she wants to say.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Many people in her church fought against her for choosing to leave her spouse and as she always told me, “The pastor said he wouldn’t give me a pinch of salt until I took back my husband like a proper woman. I never did go back to him. I just kept pushing through it.”

In her forties, my grandmother decided to go back to school to become a nurse. She became a Registered Nurse and worked until her retirement.

And now?

As a person in the early stages of dementia, she struggles with remembering where she puts everyday objects.

Sometimes she talks in circles because she can’t find the word she wants to say.

“It’s on the tip of my tongue. I know what I want to say!”

She can no longer stay by herself since she fell last year in the yard while walking her dogs. She stayed outside for hours on the ground because she left her cellphone on the kitchen table.

Like many people suffering from dementia, she has become more combative with those around her. She occasionally says things people might find offensive. When somebody corrects her on what she’s missing from her memory, she gets extremely upset.

I realize she’s not actually angry, but dealing with a wide range of emotions.

How would I react if one day the same stories I’ve told me entire life were just…missing?

Would I feel like a black hole was taking over my mind, slowly sucking up the details of my life?

[bctt tweet=”Would I feel like a black hole was taking over my mind, slowly sucking up the details of my life?” username=”wearethetempest”]

She no longer likes the same food she used to enjoy before. As my mother describes it, she only likes to eat children’s food : chicken strips, fries, mashed potatoes, etc. Her taste buds are sensitive to the tiniest amount of spices.

On her down days, she tends to cuss more often.

“My life is shit.”

Since she has always been a very devout Christian, it has been hard for me to hear these things from her. I remember her chastising me for saying ‘crap’ as a pre-teen. However, I hear this is common in dementia patients.

[bctt tweet=”I realize she’s not actually angry, but dealing with a wide range of emotions.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Most dementia is caused by brain cell death and brain cells are some of the only cells that can not regenerate in the body.

It hurts to know she will never get better – only worse.

I am witnessing the destruction of her body before my eyes and I feel helpless.