I just recently returned from a visit with my parents. For the last three years, my Grandmother has been living with them; however, she now lives in an assisted living home not 4 minutes from their house. (Unless, you actually drive the posted speed limits, in which case it may be 6.) The picture above was taken just about 4 days ago, and she is holding my nephew — one of her 18 great-grandchildren.
Grandma came to live with my parents because she was suffering from memory loss. She was taken to two doctors: one said “Alzheimer’s” and one said, “simple dementia”. So, we don’t know what it is other than a serious case of CRS (can’t remember. . .squat).
Interestingly, this only effects her “short-term” memory, as in about the last 5 years. But, her memory from time before that is spot on. She can remember details from her childhood that is just downright scary! She remembers a tree at the bottom of the hill at the home she used to live in, and how they would use that tree when they were skating down said hill to whip themselves around the corner. (Otherwise, they would have wound up in the pond.)
She can remember using those dipping fountain pens at school, and how she was always terrified to do so, because splotches were BAD news, and it took her a good long time to figure out how not to have splotchy papers.
She remembers her marriage, her life, her trips. . .everything until about 5 years ago, and things start to get fuzzy.
And now, she can not recall something that happens mere minutes ago.
For example, we went through the drive-thru of a fast food joint. In the span of time it took to place our order, drive up to the window and receive our order, she asked my mother no less than 7 times the EXACT SAME question. My mother very patiently answered it each and every time. Yet, when we were pulling out of the parking lot, Grandmother asked again. Mom tried to distract her, and Grandmother got upset that Mom wasn’t answering her question. When Mom explained that she had answered this question many times already Grandma went into a huff that this could not possibly be true as she had no recollection of ever asking the question.
And Grandma, the lady I have always known as sweet and loving, is MAD. Just downright angry. People keep trying to explain to her that she has short-term memory loss, and she will outright call them liars, for she has no recollection of any issues.
She feels abandoned and unloved as she now lives in the assisted living home. She is in complete misery and she has no qualms about telling you about it, and making you feel bad. But, I had offered for her to live here, and she turned me down, and chose to move into the assisted living home instead.
Every time I saw her this visit, she would ask when I had arrived. . .
It is a scary thing to see. Somehow things are not flowing from the event to the short-term memory to long-term memory. In a very sad way it reminds me of 50 First Dates.
When I returned from my trip, more than anything, I had the urge to write again. I know, from experience, that writing helps me solidify my thoughts and memories in my mind. After seeing my Grandmother’s anguish, I wish to avoid that outcome as long as possible.