I looked after my gran for the last few years of her life.
She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and experienced quite a lot of confusion. One example of this was when I went out to the shop. I got back and my Gran said that she had just eaten a lovely ham sandwich. I was really quite confused about this, because there was no ham in the house. After a good bit of digging around, I discovered that Gran had opened a tin of dog food and had made a sandwich out of that!
I didn’t know anything about dementia at this stage, and had never seen confusion to this extent. To me, it was just my Gran getting old and a bit muddled but still, it was very upsetting for me to see her getting like this.
She also fell out of bed a lot. But she wouldn’t ask for my help, because she “didn’t want to be a nuisance.” This always got my back up because she was suffering and I was there to help if only she’d ask for it. Things went on like this for some time.
It wasn’t until I needed a break and got some respite care that I realised my Gran’s condition had affected me almost more than her. And then the respite carers came up with so many ideas to improve my gran’s standard of living that I noticed a change in her on my return.
I had also never even thought about how it must have felt for my gran, with me performing personal care on her. To me it was just something that needed to be done but to her I was her grandson and she didn’t think her grandson should have to help her in these sort of ways.
Having a carer in place made me think about me being a grandson again and made me think about my Gran as my Gran, rather than someone I was looking after.
It changed my life.
I see just this kind of thing with my clients. They have muddled along in their own way, and have just reached the stage when they need help. And once the care has started, you can see that the family can go back to being family, not carers. It is great to see!