Children Coping with Grandparents’ Alzheimer’s

“Why do you visit your great grandmother when she doesn’t know you?” someone asked my granddaughter about our visits to the nursing home where my mother resided.

“Because it makes Great Grandma happy?” 8-year old Kara replied.

Also, these visits brought Kara and her young brother delight, too.  We made them special events for all involved.  I enjoyed these outings with my grandchildren and mother, too.  (Sometimes their mother was able to come along, and we have four generation pictures for our memories.)

Mother was happy to have children around her, even when she didn’t know who the tots were.  She had been an elementary school teacher many years ago and had retained her interest in youngsters…her own and others.

Kara and Alex also enjoyed participating in the activities at the nursing home, even after Mother no longer could be involved except as a spectator.  The activities director always welcomed my grandchildren, and other residents looked forward to seeing them, too.

So…if you wonder if you should involve your children and/or grandchildren in the care of your Alzheimer’s family member, recall our enjoyment with “making Great Grandma” and other residents happy.

Bathing Fears for Alzheimer’s Patients

“Mary, we must do something about your Mom,” was the comment I was met with when I visited Mother in the first nursing home. “She resists us whenever we try to get her in the shower.”

Getting Alzheimer’s patients to bathe or take a shower can be a challenge.  I discovered what the caregiver thinks is normal bathing practice for the patient may be fearful for them.  Thus, they will resist as Mother did.

I realized Mother was living in her pre-shower days, when she didn’t have this facility.  There was only the bath tub in the farmhouse where I grew up.  In Mother’s childhood home, they didn’t have running water.  They hand pumped the water from a well to the sink in the kitchen.

Mother had used showers in motels, in the little home Father built for their retirement years. However, by the time she was in the nursing home, Mother was in a pre-shower era of ther life.  So when she was expecting a bath (either in a tub or a sponge bath), imagine her shock when she was placed under a shower.

When I looked at the situation from her point of view, I realized why she resisted being given a shower.  So when the Alzheimer’s patient you’re caring for resists something that seems commonplace, take a look at it from their world. 

When I pointed this out to caregivers at the nursing home, we put into place bathing procedures that were more comfortable to Mother.