Family Caregivers, Gram Helen's Story

Gram’s Adjusting

Gram has been in her Memory Care Home for over 2 months now.  We continue to visit her often.  I bring my grandson to brighten her days a couple of times a week.  We bring her to visit her friends at Gentog once or twice a week.  We’re trying to find that perfect balance.


I just tried to re-read my earlier posts about moving Gram, and frankly I can’t read them yet.  They still make me cry.  I still miss having Gram in my life every day.  I relax more often than I did before.  I am free to work in the evenings when I need to (which is often).  But I still miss her.


Last week when I took the baby to see her, I was pleasantly surprised to find her in the middle of the group doing exercises.  She smiled and waved when she saw us…and continued on with her exercise. Braylon and I sat down outside the group and watched.  The leader moved them from exercise to trivia, and Gram continued to interact with her friends.  Another resident (a former doctor) wheeled over to visit with the baby and I.  When the group transitioned to the table for a craft, Braylon and I gave Gram a hug good-bye and left.  We didn’t get a lot of visiting time, yet I felt like this was a really successful visit.  FINALLY I was able to observe her in her new environment, interacting, laughing and being the Gram I know.  Whew.

Friday I surprised her and picked her up for a day at Gentog.  She is always greeted like a long lost friend when she returns here, which she really enjoys.  She spent the day visiting, seeing the children and relaxing.  I had to ask her three times if she was ready to go home (such a difference from when she used to plead to go home).  Once we arrived at her new home, she walked right in and joined her friends at the dinner table.


On Sunday Braylon and I stopped by Gram’s home, picked her up and took her to visit with my parents.  We had a lovely afternoon, and when it was time to take her back for dinner, she easily agreed to drive home with us.  We walked her in, she sat down and was immediately served one of her favorite dinners…grilled cheese.  She bid us farewell, and happily began eating and visiting with the ladies at the table.


The transition seems to be successful.  She has her home where she is comfortable.  She easily comes and goes to enjoy visiting with her friends at Gentog or for family outings.  She does not seem unhappy, and indeed seems peaceful most of the time.  If she still has occasional angry outbursts or anxious times, we don’t see them.


Having her “independence” from living with her family is maybe the best thing we could have done for her.  I pray that is true.  And I am thankful for the peace she seems to be finding on this crazy journey with dementia.

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