From time to time I will post stories that I have written about my grandmother, Betty Collura. I lived with her for about 14 months in 2006-2007, and it was during this time that she started showing the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. It was an interesting time with many significant ups and downs, but I have a unique story to tell for almost every single day.
I am happy to say that my grandma came to spend Christmas Eve with the family this year. She refused to come last year when my uncle attempted to pick her up and bring her to my parents’ house. He begged, pleaded and tried to reason with her, but she refused to get dressed and leave her bedroom. I guess she was just having a rough day.
My grandma has been living in an assisted living facility that specializes in Alzheimer’s care for the last two years or so. Even with a woman living with her that watched over her and my mother visiting once or twice a day, her house became too unsafe. My grandma had finally reached the point where she required constant care.
Her heart, lungs and body are still in great shape. At 84 years old, the doctors say that if it was up to her body, she could live another 10 years. Her mind is a different story. My grandma is at the point where she does not know who any of us are anymore, and she really has no idea what’s going on around her. Sometimes when a family member goes to visit her, she will recognize them as someone that she has met before. But she is usually not able to recall their name, or her relation to them.
Every so often she’ll have a day where she is sharper than usual, and will tell accurate stories. Mostly they are old stories that date back to her childhood and teen years. But a majority of what she says is random chatter that doesn’t make sense. If a dog barks, she will make up an outrageous story about how it’s her dog, and tell it to us like she could actually convince us.
I often wonder if she believes herself as she rambles. The Alzheimer’s mind sure is an interesting little world. One thing I am grateful for is that at least in the case of my grandma, this little world appears to be a bright, colorful one that doesn’t seem scary or harsh. Like anyone else with Alzheimer’s Disease, she has a few cranky days here and there where nothing you do or say can snap her out of it. She acts like a big five year old and getting her to be nice or go anywhere is impossible. We’ve had to cancel hair and nail appointments for her at the last minute before, and last year we had to do Christmas Eve without her.
But overall Grandma is chipper, friendly and pleasant to be around. She smiles and giggles as she people-watches and will chat with anyone that approaches her. According to my mother, the conversations that she has with the other people at her home (who are in a smiliar mental state) are entertaining.
This Christmas Eve she sat in a chair near the middle of the room and enjoyed socializing with everyone around her. She also enjoyed watching and talking to Coco. Whether she recognizes my dog or not, she always gets so excited to see her. My grandma ate well and was in the best mood possible. I wonder if she understood that she was surrounded by family members who love her. Whether or not she remembers, I’m pretty sure she can feel the love.