Living with Dementia and Grandma

2008, Grandma Clara and my daughter at the MN Renaissance Festival
2008

A new journey begins.

At 41, I now find myself living with my parents again in order to care for my grandmother who is living with dementia. Grandma transplanted 355 miles away from what was her normal to avoid being placed in a nursing home.

My daughter graduated from high school and our local community college in May of 2020. Then she spent her summer travelling. Some days it feels like I exchanged my daughter for my grandma, as it was in June of 2020 that grandma moved from Clearwater County all the way to the southern edge of Minnesota to live with me.

Unfortunately, I was unable to accept grandma into my home at the time. Instead, she ended up on the farm with my parents. The farmhouse was also not an ideal location for her as it was not elder friendly. It had a split level with short stairs going up to the kitchen and there were no ground level bedrooms. Safety required converting the living room into a temporary bedroom for her.

Living with dementia is an emotional challenge that I was unprepared for. By August, I was also living on the farm to care for grandma full time.

In October of 2020, we moved off the farmstead. With the help of family, my mom, stepfather and I spent a frantic couple of weeks packing and we are now in a tiny apartment located in a new county while we wait for a house that will hold the four of us comfortably to come onto the market. (I have taken to calling this period of time purgatory.)

In six months, my grandmother, her medical care and services were all moved twice throughout the state. Transferring all of her information and accounts between three counties was not an easy process.

One of my biggest wishes has always been to have my grandmother live closer. It had been many years since she was able to travel safely to stay with family on this side of the state. She had been in and out of the hospital frequently with pneumonia and miscellaneous surgeries. I’m thankful that I now get to spend this time with her. I’m honored that when the choice had to be made in order for her to continue staying with family, she chose to be with me.

Grandma is now 88 years young. Her health struggle is hard to witness. Constant back pain from a life of hard factory work, her dementia is progressing rapidly and it is a battle getting her to gain weight and drink more fluids. She is still the same sweet, crafty and stubborn grandma I’ve always loved despite all of that and more.

Grandma has good days and some not so good days. It’s heartbreaking when she forgets that she has moved, who she is living with and where we are in the world. It’s heartwarming when she is crocheting and reminding us that she will eat anything as long as it’s not fish (which isn’t true, as she is a very picky eater but it is good for a chuckle). 

I know we have many challenges ahead, but I will cherish them all. 


xoxo,
Da’Nela, an American Misfit, [she/her/hers/trying to be humanish, maybe]
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Resources for living with dementia:


Journal Entry for TTBH; Topic: 2020, #3
See Also, Journal Entry: The Year I Ghosted the World


Trying To Be Humanish
Trying To Be Humanish
Living with Dementia and Grandma
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