Being a Caregiver to a Dementia Patient

The Grandad Diaries

If you have ever looked after an elderly person or family member, then you will know exactly what I’m talking about…especially one that has Dementia. It can be quite draining in a day and you will definitely be welcoming your bed with open arms by the close of day.

I thought I’d do a post about what I deal with on a daily basis while looking after my grandad so that I also have a type of diary entry to remind me of it one day when he’s no longer around. What I can tell you is that I have to have patience on tap. It has to flow from me like the rivers of Babylon.

So, he’s eating lunch and I ask him not to feed the dog. Two seconds later, can you guess what he’s doing? You guessed it! Feeding the dog. Or, I ask him to please leave his feet up on the crossbar so that he doesn’t slide down onto the ground. I turn my back and when I look back again, his feet are on the ground.

Just to explain why he lands up on the ground…he has one of those fancy chairs that he got through the medical aid that lets him lie down and then also helps him stand up by going up all the way. So, to help him not mess on himself, we have the chair a little way up so that he leans over the food trolley/table in front of him. He also wears a plastic bib.

I also answer the same questions about twenty times in a day. For example, “What day is it Ondeanie?”

“It’s Monday Gramps.”

“Oh, the worst day of the week.” (Because he hated Monday’s in school)

I kid you not…10 seconds later, we repeat that conversation. I timed it! While I’m washing him in the morning, he also asks me how my evening was about 10 times. It takes me about half an hour to wash his body. Oh, Oh…and when it’s Wednesday… then I get asked, “Did you hear about Wednesday legs? When’s day gonna break!” I’ve heard this about 3 times every Wednesday for the past year and a half and then I still need to act amused so that his feelings don’t get hurt.

Grandpa (what I call him, or Gramps) has also started forgetting what he needs to do once he gets out of bed or has been washed or when he has to go to the toilet after tea time. He stands there and asks me where to next. I’m quite sure this means that his mind is on a more serious downward spiral lately.

He relives the past over and over again and we hear about it a few times a day. Sometimes he’ll change the channel and we get to hear something we hadn’t heard in a while, but most of the time it’s the same things. I now know my grandad better than I’ve ever known him. Something I did know though, is that he loves my Gran very much! So much so, that we thought he would die not long after she went. But this year and month will be three years and he’s still going strong even though he’s turning 90 in September. He misses my Gran very much and would love to be with her in heaven. In fact, he begs God almost on a daily basis to take him and every time someone else dies around him, he gets upset that it’s not him. He wants to be with God and my Gran.

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I have to change his nappies on a daily basis, as well as his linen savers. He wets the bed worse some days than other days. There are times that I even have to change his bedding because it’s so bad. When he eats, we have to cut his food up for him because he struggles to do it for himself. He has also started struggling to swallow liquid without choking on it. We not sure why, it’s like he’s forgotten not to breathe while he’s drinking.

I got a whole lot of nature shows and old cowboy movies for him that plays on repeat because he forgets that he’s watched it before. However, he has started remembering the cowboy movies though. Quite often, He will just stare out the window at the sky and talk to someone. We not sure if it’s Jesus or my Gran but his mouth is going the whole time.

My mom went away to Cape Town for two weeks and we looked after him at her house. Before she left, he had started coughing and I was doctoring him with cough syrup, Corenza C and ACC200. She was gone for a week when all hell broke loose. He woke up the Saturday morning and told me that his one friend has just come in and stolen his ID and left the photos lying all over the bed. Needless to say, I think that friend passed away many years ago and there was nothing on the bed. So, I ignored what he said and I got him ready because my aunt was fetching him. By the time she brought him home, he could hardly walk and he was not calling us by our names. We put him to bed and I thought that he would be better the next morning.

Well, he never went to sleep. I had to jump up every few seconds right through the night because he kept trying to get up to ‘change the fuses’ or ‘change the bulbs’ or stop someone stealing something. I tried to give him something to sleep, but it didn’t work. I eventually gave up on sleeping at 6am. I had to keep him in bed because he was coughing a lot and I wanted him to stay in bed and get better…and sleep! No such luck! I eventually had to put a chair outside his door and sit there all day because he kept trying to get up and he can’t do that by himself. He would fall and break his hips or something worse. At this point, even the rivers of Babylon full of patience was starting to wear thin. I was exhausted from running up and down all night and day, from the emotional strain and the worry. I would sit and feed him and he would ask the person next to him if they want some…there was no one there. I was beginning to think I needed to call an exorcist. By 8pm I knocked him out with more pills and eventually, the pills worked and he fell asleep. He slept the whole of the next day. A lot happened with him that day too, but it’s too much to go into now.

He has a good life and I believe that it’s the reason he’s still alive but he’s going down hill a little faster lately but he might still outlive all of us! Ha ha! I didn’t ever think that I would be able to wash my grandad and see parts of his anatomy that I thought I’d never have to see, but when it came down to it, I just dealt with it. I honestly don’t even notice anymore.

Do you have any experience with looking after a Dementia patient or an elderly patient? Tell us about it.

That’s it from me for now…

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One thought on “Being a Caregiver to a Dementia Patient

  1. Pingback: My Random Ramblings for August 2021 | Ondeane Lourens

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