My granddad, the fighter

28 Mar 2011By Anne-Louise, Great Britain

My granddad was diagnosed with vasular dementia about 5 years ago. In the beginning it was just random forgetfulness, such as forgetting his grandkids names (which to be fair is a job in itself to remember as there are 9 of us).

It gradually got worse. I work up the road from where my grandparents lived so I used to visit come dinnertime. When I was there I would be continuously asked the same questions by my granddad. We used to make a bit of a joke about it together and he’d laugh when I’d repeatedly remind him that he’d already asked me it.

About a year or so after he was diagnosed, he suffered a stroke and fell. Due to the internal bleeding he was admitted to hospital after we managed to get him in saying that it was a day for his appointment (kinda used his dementia to an advantage to help him). After this, his dementia set in really bad.

He lost his independence. He couldn’t dress, go to the bathroom, or wash himself, which left my grandma as his main caregiver. In the first 3 years my grandparents lived in a house, which was a huge pain because the council wouldn’t fit the house with equipment to help my granddad out. They would much rather them be moved into a bungalow. Several times the council suggested we consider placing grandad in a home.

Granddad and grandma were then placed into a bungalow which had some equipment fitted to help. A year later gran accepted help with looking after him. My granddad would go to a respite once a week, but with what little speech my granddad had left, he told my nanna that he didn’t like going because they shouted at him.

My gran had also informed the carers at the respite that he needed help with feeding. He would often come back with food all down his shirt as he was left to feed himself. Which meant a lot of the time he was coming home hungry.

Then about 9 months ago, granddad suffered another stroke which was far worse than the others. We were told that we should brace ourselves for the worst as the next one could possibly kill him, and that they had only given him a life expectancy of 3 months.

Because of the dementia granddad slowly lost all all functions of his body which meant he was eating baby food. Then doctors told us food was going into his lungs, causing chest infections. Over the following weeks he slowly got worse. The sad thing was, we could all see the pain he had to suffer (and at this point I’m actually typing and crying), and we knew that there was nothing that we could do.

Then one morning I was called out of work and told that he had passed away. The paramedics had tried for 30 mins to bring him around, but were unsuccessful.

Vascular dementia was the main reason I lost granddad. Although he passed away in November last year, it felt to me like I’d lost him long before then: after the first year when he struggled to recognise me. That killed me inside.

My granddad was a fighter. He survived for 7 months when the doctors only gave him 3, but I wish that there was more that I could have done to help him. Unfortunately there is little, if no infomation on the internet that doesn’t contain medical jargon to help people with this condition. I think that people need to be more aware of dementia.

I hope that this is easy to understand; It seems like its all over the place, but it just came out as a giant flow of memories.

R.I.P Granddad. <3 you and Miss you millions!