Friday, January 16

How Our Family Looks With Alzheimer's.

I am pretty sure I have told you that my granddad has Alzheimer's, if I haven't yet..let me introduce you to him.

Everyone, this is Frank, my Grandfather. I know you all want this sweater he's sporting. Frank was born in 1931, lived in Slave Lake Alberta and was a pilot. He could and did fix almost anything with an engine and loved to play his guitar and sing. He had 4 children with his wife and lived a happy life.

My Grandfather and my brother Dawson are very close. 

This is his lovely wife, my grandmother,  Mary.

My aunty painted this picture of them, it's pretty spot on in every way, even down to how my granddad looks at my grandmother. 

They have been married for pretty close to a hundred years now.

These gems are my parents. (My parents just lost Monopoly in this picture and thats my dad  waving everyone a very loving hello)

We are actually a relatively "normal" and happy family.

My parents retired last year and moved out to BC to help take care of my Grandparents. This Christmas when I went out I saw first hand what my parents life is like as care givers.
They help my grandparents almost every day with errands, doctors appointments, classes and support groups. It's not easy taking care of your aging parents, and I see that the task is  made even harder when one has no idea who you are some days.

When I was out there visiting this Christmas my granddad forgot who I was 3 out of the 4 times I saw him. Bless his heart, he would say to me, "you look familiar, what is your name?" or "I feel like I should know you, do I?"

I would smile and just say, "my name is Joelle"
I didn't want to upset him by lecturing him, or saying "I'm your granddaughter" I didn't want him to feel bad. I have been doing some reading about this vicious disease and, like it says in the books some days are good, some days are not so delightful. My parents take everyday as it comes.
But I can see it's hardest on my grandma and my mom.

It must be devastating to see a man you have adored and look up to as your hero all your life become weak and forget things. I know it upsets my mom a great deal when he would say he forgets me. I am not too bothered by it, I feel it's better me he forgets than her, but the sad reality is that it's only a matter of time and they too will be forgotten and reintroducing themselves daily (even hourly) to their once family patriarch.

I spoke to my doctor and got some tests done to see if there is any early indicators that I might one day get it too, thankfully my brain scans came back clear. To my knowledge no one else in my family has been checked.

My mom has now dedicated this chapter of her life to her parents. It's fascinating watching her serve them so tirelessly, knowing that her heart will only get more and more broken as the years go on.

As it is with most things like this, a lot of the loved ones, feeling helpless against this destroyer of lives, become advocates and rally together to raise money for research and new advancements. My mom is doing the same thing.  This year she will be participating in the 2015 Investors Group Walk for Memories

I told my mom I would pass along her info and see if there was anyone out there who might be interested in helping. Who cares if the money is raised in another province, help is help, and everybodys  loved ones deserve to have a dignified and full life to the very end.

He hasn't forgotten the tune of his favourite songs, or how to play the guitar, but it has robbed him of the memory of the lyrics..But it's still cool to hear him play. When he mumbles the distorted lyrics to my grandma Mary's favourite song, she gets teary and then whispered to me very softly, "I wish I had my husband back."

That is why I decided to post this here. The thought of finally finding Jason,  spending 10, 20 even 30 years with him and him forgetting me and all of our stories....or me forgetting him.  Forgetting all the kids, or the special times we had. I needed to put this out there and begin by doing my part in helping change this for other families, for our family.

Thanks in advance for any and all help you might so kindly give. I assure you every penny is treasured and appreciated!


I am grateful my parents get to help out and feel like they are a part of the solution. 

I am grateful for my blog. If this fate ever befalls me, I will have my stories down for my kids and my grand babies to remember me by. 

I am grateful for time with Frank and Mary this Christmas. It meant a lot.