Wow. This brings up a lot of memories.
I can’t sort it chronologically like Chris did (Oh, no! maybe that’s a dreaded sign…), but I certainly relate to a lot of what the two of you said.
My grandparents were the only constant in my life. They were much more like parents to me, and I lived with them on and off growing up. My grandmother showed signs of forgetting things as she got older, in spite of doing all the crosswords and extensive reading one could cram into a life. I blame it on the aluminum pots at the cabin. I suspect they came from the main house before my memory reaches. Which means I am safe. (right?)
Here is what I may get to look forward to:
Started off with short blanks - missing a word, driving the car someplace and taking the bus home.
Tried daycare, but she was expelled after she punched out someone else’ grandmother.
Perceived theft was an issue, so things were hidden (diamond rings in the trash, which the helper found in time and turned over to the family - then my grandmother really accused the helper of theft. After all, where were the rings? sigh…).
She would follow “this stranger” (the helper) everywhere. Not trusting, and adjusting things she did. For example, taking the half a salmon the helper had put in the deep freeze and moving it to the washer, “where it belonged”.
Temper tantrums were usually manifested as aggression toward the helper - the basement stairs were boarded up after she tried to throw the helper down them. This obviously made it very difficult to find relief help on weekends. Went through a lot of staff that just couldn’t cope with her. Teary phone calls to the family were not uncommon.
Wandering. Calling taxis to the house to “rescue” her and take her to her childhood house down the hill. A block was put on the taxi registry - no taxi would come to the house, no matter what you said. Police picked her up wandering (several times), once in a full slip, stockings, and pumps in the middle of the night - in the snow.
Garden was locked to prevent this, but later doors were locked as well, due to the dangers of the ponds. As well, upper stories were boarded up to prevent accidents on the stairs.
Most women were addressed by her eldest daughter’s name.
Her husband died just before it started to get bad,although this is fuzzy, there was a lot going on then. Later she frequently asked where he was. Telling her he had died always resulted in hysterical sobbing - like it was the first time she had heard. That was really hard, seeing someone go through that pain over and over again, and not being able to go through the grieving process normally. Taking her to the beach house on my own was almost easy, I thought. Until we got there and it turned out she was expecting to see him there. It was very, very hard to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t do it on my own without the helper.
Going to a restaurant could result in asking “Who this gentleman was?” (the driver) and asking again after a few minutes. “Why is that man following us? Who is he?” . And again, and again. Sometimes, comments were positive, "Well, he’s very kind, isn’t he?"
Giving medicine at a restaurant once resulted in being accused of trying to poison her, along with loud calls for help to other patrons. That was especially fun.
Her often asking for an extra cup and saucer for her husband during tea at home was a sure way to convince the helper that his ghost was still there (I rather enjoyed that one, and played along, offering biscuits in the direction of his chair). The helpers were rather superstitious, which I delighted in.
Later, she needed more care than the home visits from the nurses and physicians could accommodate, and had to be moved to a long term care facility at the university I was working/studying at. It was amazing she was able to stay at home that long - thanks to Canada’s fantastic health care system (under fire, I know). Since my building was really close, I got to go in an help feed her for the last 6 months. We put a "do not resuscitate order on her (no breaking of ribs doing chest pumps on my 90 year old grandmother, thank you.) As she got really, really bad, they changed her status so that she could have higher levels of morphine for the last few days.
A few months after she died, I came here.
Yeah… it is/was really, really hard. My heart goes out to you guys. I am so very sorry your family needs to go through this