All of this is very new to me, so I'm feeling lost. Let me start off by saying, I was raised by my grandparents so they are the most important people in my life. Lately, my grandma hasn't been feeling well. I've spent the last 2 months working my 40+ hour/wk job and taking care of her everyday (I work nights). 2 weeks ago my grandpa had a heart attack, which resulted in 5 bypass heart surgery. Every since then my grandma has been in a nursing home. This morning she was rushed to the ER due to vomiting up blood. I know she's been having a little trouble with her memory lately but when I walked into the hospital room she had no idea who I was. Her sister tried to reassure her I was her grand-daughter but she just stared at me with a blank expression. That broke my heart. I don't have a clue how to deal with this....all I seem to do is cry. I know there will be times when she is able to remember but how do I cope with the times she can't? Any advice would be great.
It is HORRIBLE to watch someone you love, respect and care about deteriorate. It's even worse when they don't remember you.
Has Grandma been diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimers? If so, then the shock of events could have made her step down into another level. If not, she could simply be suffering from shock (which isn't so simple, ok.. bad choice of words there) and her brain is in overload into body repair, and it could be all a bit too much stimulation right now.
Hospital does odd things to our charges .. I think the hustle and bustle of the place, the constant activity, the change in routine throws the best of us, least of all the elderly, LEAST of all those suffering Alzheimers!
How's Grandpa doing? Heart surgery is miraculous now-a-days, can he and Grandma visit? She might feel better if she can see him? Try and establish a routine as quickly as possible.
Anyway, to your other question: How do you cope when she doesn't remember you?
You be her best friend regardless. Always bring a little treat (they love presents) You smile, and chatter on, and laugh. You give her a hand massage (always a calming treat for them) and when it's time to go, give her a hug, a smile, a touch and leave. THEN you cry. It will be different tomorrow - each day is a new day.
Be strong, your grandma is still in there !!!
So sorry this has all happened in such a short and distressing time. I hope that you have other family or friends nearby in addition to your great-aunt. You'll need help and someone to hug you. How old are your grandparents?
Please take a moment to read the "Stages of Alzheimers" thread at the top of this section. If your grandmother's memory problems and behavior (at home) fit into any of the stages, then perhaps she has problems not just caused by the unfamilitar hospital setting and the anemia from blood loss. All of those problems together may be why she didn't know you. If the Alzheimer's seems too familiar, mention this to her doctors and nurses.
I understand completely how it feels to be forgotten. My mother forgot me, too. I was her only child and although I knew she had Alzheimer's, I was convinced that she could not possibly forget me. I was wrong. Mom forgot me. She "youthened" in her mind and all too soon, she was too young to have a daughter my age. It was very upsetting. About a year after Mom forgot me, as I was driving her home from a doctor's appointment, I said, "Guess what, Mom?" She remembered to say,"What?" I replied, "I'm your daughter Barbara." Mom looked so surprised and said. "You are??!" Then we had a good laugh together, because you learn you either laugh or cry. There's a place for both. It was good to laugh that day.
We'll hope it's not Alzheimer's but only the worry about her husband, the jolt of moving to the nursing home, those unfamiliar surroundings, the blood loss, and move to the hospital just have her completely confused. Add in that it's normal for the elderly to become confused when hospitalized. Hope she'll be well and back to normal soon.
As Sally has said, maybe she'll get better if she could see your grandfather. Also, take her favorite hand lotion and gently rub it on her hands and back. Talking with her and the familiar odor might be a connection for her.
Understand that she has not chosen to forget you or that it means she didn't/doesn't love you. She cannot reach that part of her knowledge now. As life settles down, her husband improves, she improves, and they are together again, she may get to be herself again. I hope so.
Take good care of yourself in these distressing days. Let others help.
I am also hoping and praying that your grandmother is only temporarily confused due to the shock of her husband's illness and being moved suddenly to a nursing home ... I hope he recovers well (my brother in law had a quintuple heart bypass 4 years ago at the age of 62 and recovered completely ) and they both get back to normal. meanwhile don't take any of it personally -- she can't help it.
The ladies above have given you some great advice and help. I too, believe that AD patients do not really forget the people that are around them the most. Maybe at the very end?! Also, your Grandma could be having a reaction to any meds they are giving her. My FIL thinks he is at home, when he is in the hospital, sometimes (meds). He also walks down the halls and does weird things, when there is no one there to watch after him (family member). Last time he was in, he said he had already had lunch, and then his came! We think maybe he went down to someone elses room and helped them eat their lunch!!! He is 90 years young!
Talk to the nurses and find out what is going on with your Grandmother and if they have done any tests or anything? Try to keep as informed as you can. I know it is hard with your job and all. Hope both of your Grands get better soon.
I just referred someone to this board, and I thought I'd check after being out of touch for a couple of months. I'm sorry for your grandparents' troubles.
I hope that since your posting, things have improved.
I communicate with people every day whose family members have been diagnosed (usually by their family doctor) with "dementia". The first thing I say is what everyone on this board would say - get a proper diagnosis!
Dementia is a symptom. It can be caused by a number of conditions, or a combination of conditions. There are many neurological conditions that cause dementia. Liver disease (which is not necessarily related to alcohol) can cause dementia. The combination of a neurological condition *and* an infection or illness, and/or certain medications, can cause *temporary* dementia or worsening symptoms.
I think the progression should be a full medical work up and history of symptoms to identify any other problems, and then a referral to a good neurologist for further testing. Whatever the diagnosis, it sounds like you'll be your grandmother's best advocate!