When my Nan got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease a little over a year ago, our entire family took it very hard. Both Nan and Pop are in their 80’s and live in a retirement home. Its a place where high functioning senior citizens can live when cooking and cleaning and regular upkeep of a house is just too much for them. They meet with other peers in the dining room each mealtime. No worries about having to wash dishes. They are free to come and go as they please. Some of their friends living there still have a car and drivers’ license. Its not a place where you will find people with severe dementia. Nor will you see people being hand fed their meals or wheeled to a room to be bathed. The people there are all able to do these things on their own.
So when Nan got diagnosed, our immediate thoughts were related to her home. Will she have to move out of her current place? Will we have to move her into a long term care facility? And what about Pop? How will this affect him? Thankfully, when she got diagnosed last year her main symptoms involved some minor short term memory loss here and there. Aside from that she was fine.
Oh yes. I failed to mention that Nan is also legally blind. Sometimes I forget that part because she’s been blind for the majority of my adult life and I’m so used to it now. Despite her blindness, Nan continued on with her life, doing things no one ever thought could be possible without your sight. But she did it anyways. As they’ve gotten older both my grandparents have come to depend on each other more and more. Just recently Pop began using a walker to help him get around because of extreme weakness in his legs. Nan holds on to one side and off they go together, side by side.
But this diagnosis has changed things. At first it was ok because there were no big symptoms. But over the past 3 weeks its like a switch went off in Nan’s brain and she is going downhill. Fast. The family has been called in several times because she became so upset and no one could get her to calm down. She is hallucinating now. Today my aunt and uncle are there with her. She says she keeps seeing this group of women who keep standing around her, crowding in on her, standing over her. And they are laughing. She said that one of the women has a flashlight that she keeps shining in her eyes and she randomly covers her face with her arms to block it out.