A Vista to Grandma

by Steven

The Alzheimer's facility is located off a main thoroughfare and set back against the county golf course. It is very expensive for the inmates to live here. I go up the main drive and park before the office. Inside is the receptionist, a woman of about sixty. She greets us for the very first time, since we haven't been here before.

We go through a remote controlled door and wend our way to the kitchen area. And there, after three years of having not seen the old lady, she sits at a table with the other mindless, nibbling at some Brussels sprouts and picking listlessly at her meal.

I offer her a cookie that I brought from the reception area. She used to be a big sweet tooth and eat tons of candy, but now she barely even takes a bite of it.

After her small meal, we wait briefly in the lounge where another woman cries out like a baby, lying on the couch, falling asleep. A clever old thing walks up to me and babbles in a language I don't understand, which turns out to be Flemish. She's friendly, though obviously not lucid or sane.

We wheel grandma to her room so as to try and elicit how much of her mind is still left. The result is sad, though not unexpected. She seems to be at least 40% worse off mentally than when she left assisted living to be placed in Alzheimer's.

She thinks she is in England (she lives in the USA) and doesn't recall the husband she was married to for 59 years, but who predeceased her eleven years ago.

Grandma the tyrant is a complete prisoner in her own body. How much longer will she be condemned by genetics and fate to exist in this hideous fashion?

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I agree
by: Anonymous

It is hideous, isn't it? And there are so many of us on this site and in this country who don't have the luxury of putting our relatives into homes we can walk out the door from and go back to our lives. Our homes are that place and when that person walked through our door, the lock shut behind them trapping us also in "their" lost world.

My grandmother had Alzheimer's and died from it over twenty years ago. My uncle had it and now my mom, who lives with me. You would think that in all these years and with the billions spent for research that some help would have been found by now, but like any other disease a cure wouldn't help the pharmaceutical industry.

I never knew this but all the research centers are in it for themselves. I've had several doctors explain this to me, so I didn't just pull it out of the air. Every research center wants to be "the one" that cures a disease, so they don't communicate with each other.

As an example, say twenty places are given millions each year to study and try medications for Alzheimer's (or cancers or any other disease) Every single one of them could be working on the same hopeful treatment.

Every one of them wasting time. Years. No one calls the other to say, "Hey this doesn't work, don't bother." There is absolutely no joint effort in this at all.

Millions of dollars are wasted each year in research by these organizations looking for the accolades that will come with being the one to cure Alzheimer's. So like cancer (especially breast cancer) and all other diseases that benefit the pharmaceutical industry, no cure is going to be found.

So as caregivers, our miserable existence continues. We tolerate the 24/7 intrusion into the latter years of our own lives and all we can hope for is that we get a couple of years ourselves before we forget who the hell we are.

I took care of my uncle who lived down the road and watched him mentally die a slow death. Thank God he didn't live with me.

Now my mother does and it's like I'm at the same movie with just a different cast of characters and someone locked the theater doors and I can't get out. The movie plays every day over and over and over.

I have been submerged with caregiving for Alzheimer's and someday, I don't want to be that person. I don't want to do this to my own daughter.

I have to hope that the plan I have set in place for myself when the time comes will still be in my head and that opportunity won't be lost in a fog I can't remember because then I will be "that person" and I won't even know it.

by: Anonymous

Goodness, have any family visited her in the last three years?

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