Not long before my grandfather passed from this world, I remember kneeling down and tying his shoes as if he were a helpless child.
Suddenly, as I finished up a knot, I received a hard and pointed kick to the face while he screamed out profanities. I clearly remember he called me a son of the bitch.
When my grandfather had his mind, he would never do such a thing. Never.
Dementia, I learned then, does strange and very cruel things to the human brain. I remember the toddler-like feedings with a bib and my grandmother struggling to fit her once-strong and independent husband into adult diapers.
It’s a damn cruel mental condition when a man can be robbed of his sanity and dignity with no control. What’s perhaps even scarier is the complete lack of self-awareness of what’s even happening.
The pain upon my cheek that day was nothing compared to the confusing pain in my heart. I knew, logically, that wasn’t really my grandfather that day-- it was his dementia.
In those days, my grandfather’s mind would jump in and out of decades as my grandmother would struggle with his care. Eventually he became too much of a burden for my aging grandmother and my family was able to find him specialized care in a facility. We were lucky then.
Today, caring for a loved one who’s lost in such a mental state is still not easy. Navigating the tangled web of medicaid, forms and endless phone calls is a terrible nightmare for families who are often already at the end of their proverbial ropes.
As a journalist, I’m researching the care, or the lack of it, for people like my grandfather. While he had a family that cared for him deeply, I understand how hard it can be to make the decision to let someone else take on that care.
If you’ve made it this far into this post, I would love to hear from you on what resources you’ve had to turn to for your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Did you ever take your loved one to a hospital or emergency room when you couldn’t handle the care anymore?
Was your loved one ever stranded at a hospital because the staff couldn’t figure out where to place them?
Please send me an email. I would like to hear from your story and perhaps use it as a way to learn on what needs to be fixed in Colorado.