Saturday, March 5, 2011

getting old....not fun

my grandpa has dementia and as much as it is sad to watch him be confused...sometimes you just have to laugh. i hope you don't think i am horrible for this post.

we get the occassional comment from him about someone being behind us or there being piles of sugar cubes in his room but those comments are usually quickly followed with "i know you can't see what i see" least he knows it's not real. but sometimes we play along because it's better to let him be confused and not stress him out by telling him that his "mind is playing tricks" on him.....which is his classic line. for example i have carefully picked up "babies" off the floor and placed them safely on the bed. i have caught "shortbread" that is falling off his lap and i have removed the "mask" from my face. there have been times when i have been pushing his wheelchair down the hallway and he says "oh no. you are crashing into the wall" or "you just walked through a sink"....i feel rather powerful in those moments because i managed to do all of that without breaking a sweat or hurting either of us. go me!

there are also times when it is frustrating to deal with him now that he is aging. i usually visit him on wednesdays (my day off) and either saturday or sunday. he knows that wednesday is my day off and he knows that i usually show up at his place by 4pm and visit with him until he goes for dinner at 5pm. so if i am not there by 4:05pm i get a phone call. a few weeks ago i told him on the weekend that i would not be there again until thursdays because i had switched my day off that week. on tuesday he called and left me a message..."well lael, you aren't at home and you arne't here so you must be on your way over. see you in a few minutes". calling him back usually accomplishes nothing because he is rarely by his phone or even if he is right next to it he often can not pick it up fast enough. today he and i had a chat on the phone and this is how the conversation went:

grandpa: how is your hip today lael?

lael: it's actually worse today. but i am sure it will get better soon.

g: are you going to go to the doctor and get it checked out?

l: i might go if it doesn't start to get better soon.

g: do you need crutches?

l: maybe. that would actually be quite helpful.

g: well why don't you call tommy (my great aunt's son who i don't think i have ever met) and ask him for some crutches. i am sure he will have some.

l: i would rather wait and see how it feels tomorrow. and i am sure i can get crutches here in langley.

g: so where is your dad?

l: i don't know grandpa. why? do you need something?

g: well i called him at the house and on his cellular and he is not answering or calling me back.

l: oh. he must be out somewhere or at a meeting or something.

g: why don't you know where he is?

l: well i don't live with him grandpa, nor do i know his schedule.

g: is something wrong with him? why is he treating me like this?


i was stuck. i didn't know what to say. i couldn't really say "because he has a life" or "just because someone doesn't call you back the minute you call doesn't mean that they are treating you badly". nope. i just said "i don't know. but i am sure he will call you back when he can". ugh. these are the situations where i have to laugh, otherwise i would want to pull my hair out! it's so irrational. it's hard to tell sometimes when he is confused and when he is just being unrealistic and not realizing that our lives are not as simple has his life was when he was our age.

i love him. he is awesome and has a great life story but there are days when i just don't know how to handle him. it's a weird season in life.


  1. You are an amazing granddaughter and I really look up to you and all you are doing for your grandfather. I really hope and pray that you and he can feel God's strength and comfort through out this journey that you are on together.

  2. I remember your grandpa when he was younger - your dad was in grade 7. He was such fun and had a great singing voice. It's so sad to see him now - getting old sucks! But you are obviously a very caring and loving grand-daughter - it's so nice that you go and see him regularly. I think one of our biggest fears in life is getting old, being put in a nursing home, and forgotten.

    Bless you!!

  3. he still has a great singing voice! he sings hymns every night before bed and his favourite thing at his home if the hymn sing that happens every other Sunday.

  4. my grandma had alzheimers and man, it's not a good disease. it's a hard thing to watch your loved one go through. you are an AMAZING granddaughter, lael. seriously. it sounds like you are saying all the right things and the only way to keep your own sanity IS to laugh sometimes. :)