Alzheimer's Disease: My grandmother "met me for the first time" yesterday...

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 04, 2010 3:07 PM GMT
    ... and couldn't believe that she not only had a 35 year old grandson, but also that her son, my father, never even told her. She couldn't get over how much I looked like my father and how she was sure that if she had ever met me as a little boy she would have seen it then too. She has forgotten that she has been there all through my childhood and most of my adulthood up to now.

    The combination of Alzhimer's and the medication she's been on to stabilize some of her very violent behavior as her mind deteriorates has completely erased me from her memory. Even though I know it's not her fault (or really anyone's fault, for that matter) that she doesn't remember me but remembers her son who has basically done everything he can to alienate his entire family, including his own mother who is fading faster every minute, it really hurts. It makes me angry at my father, and sorry for my relatives who have to deal with it. I feel helpless.

    I know there's nothing I can do except be loving and kind to her, and to be supportive to my aunt, uncle and cousins who have to watch this sad drama play out until it's over. Still it just kills me that she doesn't even remember me. My cousin and I showed her pictures of us together, and while she smiles at the pictures, she meets my eyes and is in awe of how much I look like my father and asks if I am related to her estranged son. Is that selfish of me to be so hurt? I suppose that If I were in closer geographic proximity to her like my cousins are, this would be less of an issue for me (and maybe for her), but I have no way of knowing.

    Can I just ask those of you who have been through this with a parent/grandparent/sibling/partner for your input and experience in dealing with this, please? I'm really not sure what to do...

    Thanks guys.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 04, 2010 5:33 PM GMT
    Sorry to hear about your troubles. My grandmother had dementia before she died, but not alzheimers. She vaguely remembered who I was. All I can really say is to express your emotions. We're all human, and in difficult times we may feel things which we think are bad feelings... I know it's a cliche, but there are no good or bad feelings, they just exist -- however, the behavior that humans exhibit, acting on those emotions, can turn out "good or bad". The behavior is the good or bad thing, not the emotion. So, if you feel something you're ashamed of, just remember, you're human, your feelings are natural.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 04, 2010 6:40 PM GMT
    Sorry to hear that you are going through this. While not as severe I have to go through similar situations with my mom. While it hurts and is discouraging to you the only suggestion I can give is for you to take the focus off of yourself and put all of your good "energy" and love towards her. It is certainly not easy but that is the only thing that helps me get through.
  • fitone

    Posts: 276

    Jul 04, 2010 6:46 PM GMT
    I dealt with my mother's alzheimer's for 12 years. Don't take it personally that she doesn't remember you. It's the disease, nothing to do with you, and it's not her fault.

    My mother didn't remember me at all the last four years, though I saw her daily. She didn't recognize herself in the mirror for years. She lost the ability to walk and feed herself. I'm warning you that it's going to get much worse if she doesn't succumb to another illness.

    My mother was on Aricept for years, til we determined it was no longer any benefit to her. I'm lucky that she never became violent, and was a sweet as a young girl til the end. She told me she thought we should get married after only having symptoms for a few years.

    It was a relief when she passed, because her suffering had come to an end. My heart broke over and over to see her in the state she was in. I took comfort in knowing I did all I could, and she knew she was loved til the end.

    Have compassion for all of your family that is dealing with this disease, it is not easy for anyone.

    Good luck to you my friend!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 04, 2010 6:49 PM GMT
    Oh, I feel for you - I really do. I lost both of my grandparents on my father's side within three years of each other back in my 20s. Although neither of them had alzheimer's, they both had medical complications that resulted in them having hallucinations and some level of dementia during their final days. They were there physically but their minds weren't there any longer. I don't think there is any "right" way to feel about being with someone you love who doesn't realize who you are. I'd just suggest that you allow yourself to feel hurt or anger and not feel guilty about it. My thoughts are with you.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 04, 2010 7:38 PM GMT
    Acknowledge the feelings and emotions you're experiencing and allow them to just be what they are. Your memories with her are priceless and even though her physical mind can't conjure them now, one day when she is free of the disease and failed body, she will remember again. For now, try and see it from her perspective....don't try and force her to remember what she can't and don't show her pictures that will only frustrate her. Just enjoy the time you have left and use it to conversate with her. Just because you may not be able to talk about the past doesn't mean you can't speak with her about whatever is on her mind at any given moment.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 04, 2010 7:48 PM GMT
    My grandpa had alzheimers and that was the most torturous and mentally-taxing disease to witness, at least in my experience. It broke my mom's heart when she would visit and he didn't remember her each and every time, despite them being so close for the duration of her life. I wasn't as close to him, but I still felt confused (I was a lot younger) each time grandpa couldn't remember me either. It was like practicing introductions.

    I told my brother if I ever came down with alzheimers to make sure my life is ended. Way too torturous on everyone around me.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 04, 2010 7:55 PM GMT
    SAHEM62896 said...

    I know there's nothing I can do except be loving and kind to her, and to be supportive to my aunt, uncle and cousins who have to watch this sad drama play out until it's over. Still it just kills me that she doesn't even remember me. .... Is that selfish of me to be so hurt? ...

    Can I just ask those of you who have been through this with a parent/grandparent/sibling/partner for your input and experience in dealing with this, please? I'm really not sure what to do...

    Thanks guys.


    You answered your own question earlier. Be supportive and loving to your family. Be the strength, be the "ear". Understand and acknowledge your own feelings. They are natural. Know that you do not have to react, but instead respond in a calm, reasoned way. Be the calm.

    Also, get your own "ear". I utilize a psychologist with whom I share my approaches to the situations, and my feelings as well.

    Understand that as we all grow older that our physical and/or mental faculties may erode and be as patient and loving as you can. Also, take care of you first. Otherwise you won't be able to take care of anybody else.

    This is one of the crisis that I managing through right now.

    I'm practicing what I'm preaching.

    Aloha and Be Well!
    Alan
  • mustangd

    Posts: 434

    Jul 04, 2010 8:04 PM GMT
    SAHEM, like those who have also posted in the thread, i am sharing your experience with my Mom. Dad died 2 years ago after a long heart related illness. that said, until the last day, his mind was as sharp as they come. Mom is going down a different path, dementia/alzheimers. each visit is difficult, my brother and is see her every day, while she recognizes us most days, she is barely able to feed herself, and asks the same questions every few minutes. this disease is a cruel one, but remember, as already noted in this thread, it is the disease you are hearing, the person you remember is gone already, only the body lingers. i try to always remember that.
    my heart go's out to you, and to all those who are expereincing this in their family.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 04, 2010 8:26 PM GMT
    As many have expressed here already, I am sorry what you are going through. We all have different paths to take in life…and unfortunately life is not fair. Also, be thankful that your Aunt and cousins are there to watch her and love her. The statistics is that 1 in 4 households will be taking a primary care role for one of our parents as they age.

    Of course is disheartening when your own Mother is unable to recognize her own son, and how terrible and horrible this disease is…it strips away the humanity, compassion, and self-awareness of the individual. My uncle had it and we went experience all the normal stages of feelings that one’s goes through this ordeal.

    I have also experience something similar with my Mother, in view that she is bipolar/schizophrenic and is becoming increasingly difficult to manage all her affairs. My uncle was the primary take care, but he died two years ago. Although, I have a sister in the area she refuses to be involved with anything of her care. I live 3,000 miles away, so it’s a bit challenging and yet I do it in view of honoring and loving her. Some days are worst than other, because you are correct…I wish she could be normal. Sometimes, because of the medication she is incoherent or gives me pieces of information that do not make sense. I just have to ‘reset’ my expectations take a deep breath and ask a lot of questions, which sometimes I do not get the full information needed.

    You also need to take care of yourself…and Alan has hit it right on the nose:

    Also, get your own "ear". I utilize a psychologist with whom I share my approaches to the situations, and my feelings as well.

    Understand that as we all grow older that our physical and/or mental faculties may erode and be as patient and loving as you can. Also, take care of you first. Otherwise you won't be able to take care of anybody else.


    Just as you train your body hard for each exercise, you need to train your mind, feelings and emotions on how to deal with this situation. I have also sought the experience of a primary mental health psychotherapist…who I go once a month…with all the issues I am dealing with from my mother’s health to how is affecting my own. We have come with a strategy of how to deal with her, my family members, and the day to day issues that I have to take care for her long distance. Additionally, my faith has helped as well…knowing that I can lay down my issues in prayer.

    Take care and know that you are not alone.

    Dave
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 05, 2010 2:43 PM GMT
    Thanks guys, especially for that tip about the pictures... Didn't occur to me that they might frustrate her. I actually do feel better than when I originally posted this and now there's morse compassion that hurt in my heart now.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 05, 2010 3:22 PM GMT
    GAMRican said[...] take care of you first. Otherwise you won't be able to take care of anybody else.[...]


    This.