When a Loved One Suffers from Dementia

grandma in nursing home


It goes without saying I have an immense amount of guilt for living so far away from my family. I’m in New York.  Most of them are in Arizona.  I miss a lot. I obviously can’t make all the birthday parties, family BBQs and most of all I am missing spending quality time with my Grandma. I grew up spending a lot of time at Grandma’s house. Unlike most kids who dreaded going to Grandma’s … I looked forward to it. I was my Grandma’s only grandchild,  meaning… I was spoiled. Not just spoiled with toys, my own room at her house,  but lots and lots of love. I would spend hours playing with my paper dolls, watching classic movies like White Christmas or Easter Parade or just snuggling on the couch with my Grandma. She always made me a special omelet in the morning. Bottom line, I had it made with Grandma.

As I grew up, there was less spending the weekend with Grandma but we had dinner at least once a week together. While at college, I would drop my laundry off and she would do it for me. When I moved out of Arizona, I would still talk to her on the phone almost daily. Even if it was a short conversation, it was always nice to hear her voice. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years, Grandma has gotten older and she was diagnosed with dementia. She is now living in a nursing home and my phone calls now consist of my Mom putting the phone to her ear and pretty much telling my Grandma what to say. I know when my Mom tells my Grandma to tell me she loves me, my Grandma means it. But it is hard not to be able to carry on a conversation with her. While at home at Christmas, I tried to spend as much time visiting her as possible. One day, I wheeled her wheelchair out by the Christmas tree and we were sitting and chatting. It wasn’t until my Grandma started talking about Katrina that I realized she didn’t know who I was. I tried telling her I was Katrina to only have her tell me… No, you aren’t. Or that I didn’t look like Katrina. But still the sassy spitfire who is my Grandma wasn’t holding back on the kisses! For being a stranger to her, she was pretty affectionate! I told my Mom later that I believed Grandma was giving kisses to strangers! Grandma has days when she doesn’t know who my Mom is or days when she is flat out mean to people, it comes with the disease. But we know deep down, my lovable Grandma is in there. Not a day goes by I don’t think about her or wish I could see her. My Grandma is lucky to have excellent care, a wonderful daughter (my Mom) who visits her daily, sometimes twice a day and lots of love all around. Not many people get to have such a great relationship with their Grandma like I do… I just hope my future kids will have the same thing with my Mom. But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

Does your parent or grandparent have dementia?  How has that changed the family dynamic or your experiences with them?


How to go from “Forty and Frumpy” to “Forty and Fabulous”!

Raise your hand if you have heard any of these?

“You know you’re not getting any younger.”

“Age is nothing but a number.”

“You are only as old as you feel.”

I don’t know about you, but all I seem to be able to hear is that teacher from the “Peanuts” cartoons when people start to utter these cliches.  Turning 40 can and should be a momentous occasion in a person’s life.  Some people embrace it, while others, such as myself, had to be dragged kicking and screaming toward that big ol’ number.  Many of you are juggling children, husbands, jobs, errands, finances, and at the end of the day, you feel like a wet dish rag rather than someone fresh off the set of “America’s Next Top Model”.  But taking your attitude from “feeling frumpy” and getting out of that housecoat and slippers to “feeling fabulous” and getting into that slinky little dress is easier than one might think.

By making a few tweaks to your daily routine, you will begin to see positive changes in the way you feel about yourself and, in turn, others will see the changes in you as well.  With an improved positive and healthy attitude, you will soon realize that getting older is not as bad as you think, and maybe the best is yet to come.  Here are some tips I would like to share that I have greatly benefited from over the past few years.

1.         “EXERCISE, EXERCISE and EXERCISE!!!” Now friends, this tip does not mean going up and down the stairs doing laundry.  NO!!!  I am talking real exercise.  We are in a world where we never have enough time, so if your idea of exercise is just walking around the cubicles at work on your lunch break then do it!   Find a half-hour in your day to do this for yourself.    I promise it will help with your physical and emotional well-being.

2.         TURN OFF THE TV AND GO TO BED!! Now I will admit that I am totally guilty of NOT doing this at times, but it is really important.  Trust me, as you get older, you want to wake up looking well-rested, rather than looking like you could pack for a vacation in those bags under your eyes!  Getting a full night of sleep not only helps with the way you look in the morning, but it improves your attitude 100% as well.    You do not want to end up taking a catnap at your desk while at work.    Get your zzzzzzzzzzzzzs.

3.         EAT YOUR VEGETABLES,  OR TAKE A MULTI-VITAMIN. How many times did we hear this one?   I will admit that I would much rather sit down to a pepperoni pizza than a bowl of salad, and I do not always eat as well as I should.  Taking a multi-vitamin is something that has helped me to feel better and has given me more energy.  Once I turned 40, I also turned to “One A Day Women’s” Multi-Vitamin, and it has really helped.

4          LAUGH.     This one is one of my favorites.  Laughing makes everything better in my world. Try to find some humor and laugh at least once a day.   If that means having to put on a funny movie, going to lunch with some friends, having someone hold you down and tickle you, or, if all else fails, head to the dentist for some laughing gas.  Do whatever it takes to get this done or the joke’s on you!

5. SPLURGE ONCE IN A WHILE.   Now this can apply to a lot of different things.  It can be anything from a new outfit you have been eyeing, to a new pair of shoes, to a book you’ve wanted to read, a scented candle, a bubble bath, or even your favorite bottle of wine.   Life is short and you need to take time to enjoy the things that make you happy.   Getting older is much more enjoyable and less torturous if there is a smile on that face of yours.

6.     DRESS IT UP!!!!! Most of the population comes home after a long day and immediately puts on their favorite pair of sweats and a t-shirt to start an exciting evening full of cooking and cleaning.  Once in a while, you need to take off the old comfy clothes and put on the little black dress.  Every once in a while, plan a night out on the town.  It can range from dinner with your significant other to drinks with friends or family.   Dress up and go have some fun.  You are guaranteed to feel better about yourself.   PLEASE REMEMBER IT IS NOT WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE, IT IS WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE INSIDE!!!  IF YOU FEEL FABULOUS THEN YOU ARE FABULOUS!!!

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