Who are you?
Dementia is a scary thing. Can completely change you into someone you aren’t. Dementia is not a specific disease. It is an overall term that is associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills sever enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform daily activities. Dementia changes a lot about you, it affects your memory, communication, your focus, reasoning and judgement, and visual perception. There are no cures for dementia, and it only gets worse. There is a medication that can be taken to slow down the process, but the outcome is inevitable. It can be caused by a wide variety of things such as depression, medication side effects, excessive alcohol, thyroid problems, and vitamin deficiencies. I never really thought about it, I knew it existed, but didn’t really get to in depth with it. Now thetects, excessive alcohol, thyroid problems, and vitamin deficiences.n. thinking skills re is a reason to get educated.
My grandma, my mom’s mom, has dementia. It has just slowly progressed into a complete disaster for me. It started out as nothing. She was getting older, older people have learned a lot and have to remember a lot, so I assumed that she was just getting older and was just forgetting. I am not too old, and I can’t remember what I had for lunch today. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be such a minor thing.
I can remember when things used to be great and there were no problems in the world. I would always give my grandma and grandpa a hug and as we drove off I would yell don’t put twinkies on your pizza. Why would I do that? I have no clue, but it came to an abrupt halt when my grandpa passed away unexpectedly. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses anymore, but my grandma and I immediately grew a stronger bond than we had before. The hugs continued when we parted ways, but there was just this vibe that I now got. We understood each other more I think. Our hugs lasted 10 times as long and there were always tears streaming down our faces by the end, which never happened before. I knew right away by the first hug, that things were going to be different.
Fast forward a handful of years, and that’s when it started. Things started to change, she moved farther away, and got remarried. That made it harder for me, and then I didn’t get to see her as often which plain sucked. Then it started, there were no major differences at the beginning. You know a couple wrong words here and there that didn’t make sense, thinking a little longer, but nothing major. These went on for a while, only seeing her a couple times a year it was hard to get a grip on this for me. Birthday cards would come, but the words just weren’t right. Things got worse, harder to talk, and only answering with as few of words as possible, I think realizing that she couldn’t come up with the right things to say to make sense, or to spill words into a combination that sounded right, still the hugs remained the same. She had been taking the medication to slow down the process, but at this point even the largest dosage was not doing any good. The major turning point for me was one Christmas, she had played pitch for lord knows how many years. We sat down to play, and she had no idea what she was doing, it was terrible. Seeing her struggle like that was definitely something I was not ready to see or believe. Things continued to get worse, she wouldn’t say hardly anything unless someone talked to her, and even then it was one word answers, yes or no, even if that wasn’t what needed to be said, but still our hugs remained firm and long. I knew that if she had forgotten everyone else on the planet that when I embraced her in my arms that she would know who I was and what I meant to her.
I think this Christmas was just about the complete turning point for me. She hardly said a word the whole day, mostly repeating one word things that someone would say to her, and just kind of sitting there wondering why she was in this room with a bunch of strangers and a couple people she knew. I heard her slur her words and that was just about it. It was awful that she only said a few words, but it was even worse that a couple she said were slurred. At the end of our gathering we had our hug, but it was different. She gave me a look like I guess I will give you a hug, even though I am not sure who you are, and that was the exact look. It hurt, God it hurt like hell. A short hug with little to no meaning, which hit me in the chest like a ton of bricks. Somethings that was so iconic, so amazing, something that had meant so much to us for so many years was gone, just like that. The tears on my face then weren’t for the fact that my grandpa had gone to soon, it was the fact that my grandmas mind had went too soon. Although the hug was a hug, there was little meaning, if any at all.
Time passed, things continued, little communication and little change. The breaking point for me was on Easter. I had seen her a couple times between Christmas and Easter, but only for a short amount of time and just a few words exchanged between me and her husband. Easter rolled around and we went to my aunt and uncles just to see the family and just relax. This was it for me, we walked in and she was sitting there with my one aunt overlooking the pool table. My mom took a seat right next to her, as my brother and I found a spot over on the couch. As we sat there messing around, she sat there with a blank look on her face. Just staring off into nowhere, not knowing what was going on. As her and her husband got up to leave that was it, I knew that she didn’t know who I was, and didn’t need a hug from a stranger. As much as it hurt me to not give her a hug, like I had done a million times before, I knew that she didn’t want a hug from someone she didn’t know. It hurtom someone she didnt as it hurt me to not give her a hug, like i ng the pool table. My mom took a seat right nextit me so hard, if I would have known that the last time we had a meaningful hug was going to be the last time, I would have never let go.