Two years ago Greg's mom came to live with us. She had a 6 year diagnosis of Frontotemperal Dementia. She had been unable to care for herself for the past 4 at least. Due to her older sister having some physical ailments causing her pain, she could no longer care for GP (we call her Grandma Patty @ our house to differentiate from my mom). So we moved her up from Ohio to Michigan.
When GP first moved in she could shower, dress & feed herself with a little guidance or minimal help. That has progressed to total care; feeding showering, dressing, EVERYTHING!!
A huge part of this dementia is the loss of communication! GP really hasn't been able to talk or form consecutive words for quite a few years. Yet to this day she will "talk" to you, non-stop lately! There is a difficulty in knowing if something is hurting, bothering or irritating her.
Her body language is one of constant motion & pacing (all day, every day) where it is hard to get her to even sit still for a meal. She cries off & on all day. She gets anxious when there is loud noises (um, yeah YOU try & keep 5 & 7 year olds quiet!), when she doesn't know what's going on or when Greg or I leave the house...thank God for caregivers who come & give us 3 hours each day of sanity.
Last week the final stages seems to have begun. She has always liked to go out to eat, shop or see a movie. That isn't the same anymore.....she is fighting with the seatbelt now, crying out that it's killing her & help from her many siblings (names of which she can still call out), or her mommy.
She doesn't realize Greg is her son anymore, he's more like someone she feels safe around. He calls her Patty, because she no longer answers to mom. She is constantly calling out for her, "mommy". She sees herself in the mirror & calls herself mommy. She talks in a little "baby voice", even though we don't know what she's saying.
The care, stress & strain on the family (let's just say this momma doesn't really wish for her girlies to live with someone who is now stripping her clothes & screaming like she's being killed) has gotten to be too much. No matter how much you love & care for your family, your parents, your mom....there is a reason why you move away & begin your own family, & they are first priority.
So the time has come to move GP to a safe place. A home where she doesn't have to go out on school pick up runs, where there are no loud children running & playing (she loved it when she first came), where there are people there who can focus totally on her care (& not have to barricade her in the living room to keep her away from the hot stove during meal prep) & well being.
It's time friends....summer is coming & there is no way we could not take our girls to the park, the beach, camping or amusement parks because we can't take GP. We can't justify taking away our girlies childhood for the sake of caring for GP. Even though we love her to bits!!
The girls have always had a child like understanding of GP's illness. GP's brain is sick, & it won't get better. We always have tried to explain her behaviors in a way that they feel compassion for GP & not anger (what kid wouldn't get a little ticked off @ someone standing in front of tv & blocking their view eh?!).
The girls are probably more ready for GP to go than Greg & I are (although we feel the relief & freedom of not being the caregiver anymore). There is still that dratted niggling guilt of, we should be the ones caring for her.
So what started me writing this blog 2 years ago (to relieve stress) is quickly coming to an end. There is a small (20 bed) home near us that specializes in memory loss care. They have an opening, & last week the paperwork was started. Sometime today, tomorrow or possibly Thursday will see the Frumpy House undergoing a major change!! I can't be dishonest here, it's already feeling like a great relief!
WE LOVE YOU GP! YOU KNOW WE WILL VISIT OFTEN!!
--Jeanette using BlogPress on iPhone