My Grandma is dying.

I need to vent a little. I feel so helpless. My grandma is in the hospital with advanced pneumonia. The consensus seems to be that she won’t last the summer. I am 3,000 miles away. My mom tells me what the doctors tell her but she doesn’t understand. Having some science/medical background, I try to decode it for her but I don’t think mom understands how bad it really is. There is nothing I can do but hope and pray.

It has been so hard these past few years. Alzheimers has been taking my grandma away from me, bit by bit. When I visit her it is so painful to see the woman I respect and love with all my heart being reduced to a child. I don’t think I could take seeing her in the hospital like this.

When I lived closer, grandma and I were like best friends. We would spend all day trying to find the best mexican restaurant in town. And she would always bring her own bottle of hot sauce in her purse. She is the only person I have ever known that can eat a whole jar of pickled hot peppers and ask for more.

She would tell me stories of her life during WWII. She was a secretary for a clergyman in the Red Cross. She had a degree in journalism. She raised 5 children and watched heart attacks and mental illness take 2 away from her. She has taken care of my grandpa for over 50 years. She did such a good job that now that grandma is away from home he doesn’t even know how to fix his own meals. :frowning:

Everyone in the family was afraid of her. They didn’t tell her things for fear that she wouldn’t approve. Even when I moved away grandma still called me to get the real story that no one was telling her. We would talk about food. I described to her what champagne tasted like (she never drank).

I can hardly imagine my strong, vivacious grandma on her hospital bed, too exhausted to speak. I feel like I am the one dying.

jellytoes I am very sorry to hear about your grandmother. The end rarely comes easy, unfortunately. I hope that I don’t overstep my bounds, since we don’t know one another yet, but have you considered Hospice? Have you asked her doctor whether she qualifies? I know it’s hard to be so far away.

My husband is an RN with Hospice and I can tell you that it’s hard to find more compassionate care. Normally, if you are diagnosed as having 6 months or less to live, you will qualify for Hospice.

Hospice has myriad programs available to the patient and the family. They will even visit in the hospital. If your grandmother should chose to go home, hospice has home visits available. Some Hospices have residential facilities that are really home-like. Many programs also have educational and grief services for family members. Even if your grandmother decides not to use Hospice, you can consult them for bereavement services in your home state.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization You can search the web site by zip code to find a Hospice in your/your grandmother’s area.

My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope that I didn’t upset you by mentioning end of life care. But if you are interested and have any questions, I will answer to the best of my ability and ask my husband any questions I don’t have answers to.

Keep talking, jelly.

It’s hard for you, but we’re listening.

Losing my Grandma was sudden, but it happened after years of mental illness for her.

There’s somebody here who understands.

Hospice is a wonderful organization. They did amazing things for my family and my grandfather while he was dying from cancer.

I think Stillsmiling made a good suggestion there. The hospice nurses that helped us did more than just help take care of my grandfather, they listened to us and helped us cope with things and explained what the doctors were saying in plain, understandable terms and just made the whole thing more bearable.

Thanks for listening. I appreciate the sympathies.

Stillsmiling, grandma is still in the hospital right now, and will be until they can get her left lung to inflate (or not). But I spoke to my mom about getting her into some kind of hospice or care facility. I would like to see her in a place that my grandpa can go with her. They are like a pair of shoes, one is useless without the other.

Another part of the trouble is that my mom and my grandma don’t get along at all. They drive each other insane. Mom is a bit of a daddy’s girl and I think she is doing what she can for grandma because of him, not her. Mom has never understood the close relationship I have always had with my grandma and now she is calling me for suggestions.

I feel like a heavy weight is pressing down on me. My mom said that she referred some family members that are interested in getting information on my grardma’s life and history to me. I don’t want to talk to them. I can hardly write about it here. They had 85 years to get to know her and now they are interested?

They are losing her, too… and I’ve lived with my Father all my life, and do not and can not understand him at all. I still love him. They love her. They need your help & love as much as you need help & love. Right now, you may be able to help each other.

jellytoes, Hospice isn’t necessarily a place. It’s a philosophy of care. Your grandma doesn’t have to leave the hospital to take advantage of Hospice services. I am not trying to push you in that direction, just clear up some misconceptions. And Hospice can certainly start working with your family before your grandma is released to their care.

Many Hospices are liberal with their visitation policies. I don’t know what kind of services are available in the area. That information is probably available on the web site that I posted previously. Another thing to consider, when your grandma is able to leave the hospital, is an assisted living/skilled care facility in conjunction with Hospice. This might be a good bet on keeping your grandparents together. Hospice can provide in-home care (this is what my husband did until recently…now he is on an in-take team). Some Hospices even have programs with long term in-home care and HHAs (home health aides).

I know that you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. I know I did when my beloved Grandma was ill/dying. I know it doesn’t lessen the burden…but you are normal. I know you don’t have to be told that it’s okay to grieve and feel like you are struggling. But, in case you need to remind yourself every so often, it’s okay to feel powerless. It’s okay to be really sad. It’s even okay if you feel like you can’t handle it all alone. There are people out there that know how you feel and they want to help. And if you can’t afford it, there are many programs out there that are free or billed on a sliding scale according to your income.

Stillsmiling, Thank you for clearing up my misconception about hospice care. I took a look at the link you provided and it sounds like exactly what we need right now. My mom and her siblings are totally exhausted and overwhelmed, I’ll forward mom the link and talk to her about it.

Does hospice provide any sort of grief counseling that I could take advantage of? I’m 3,000 miles away from my grandma so talking to her hospice people probably wouldn’t be feasible.

Bosda, after reading your response to my comment I realized that I have alot of unresolved anger about my relatives being so stand-offish from my grandma. I grew up thinking she was a child-eating monster but once I got to know her, I realized that I was seeing her through my mom’s perspective. Perhaps my family just wants to get to know her before it is too late. Grandma being so ill has probably made her less intimidating to others and they want to know her.

I’m trying to say that you are right. Sharing my memories with them is probably the closest my family will get to knowing a wonderful woman. I’ll give them a chance.

jellytoes, I am so sorry to hear of your difficulties.

Sending warm thoughts your way.

Absolutely! Just go to that link that I posted previously and put your zip code in. You will be able to find your nearest Hospice. It doesn’t matter whether that was the particular Hospice your grandma went through. It doesn’t matter if your family member went through Hospice at all. If you need grief/bereavement counceling, Hospice does a great job; whether it be in a group setting or one-on-one.

I have to agree with Bosda, too. People get into the mind-set of “there’s always tomorrow”. Your other family members probably thought that they could catch up with your grandma “someday”. Now that they see that “someday” may never come, they’re in a bit of a hurry to get to know her and understand her. They know that you do. That’s just conjecture on my part, but I certainly saw it quite a bit with my own grandma. We were very close.

And it did lead me to contact with my grandma’s uncle (yep, her uncle). I have had a very rewarding relationship with someone I may have never gotten to know. He’ll be 100 on Christmas and I am very thankful that he is in my life. Maybe some of your relatives that are now asking after your grandma will become to you what he has been to me.

Thanks to all of you for listening and your encouraging words. I don’t have anyone to really talk to about this and it helps to be able to post about it.

My brother, to whom I would normally be speaking to about this, is on a tour of duty with the Marines and is currently in Thailand. He is even more out of the loop than I am. Mr. Toes doesn’t deal well with anything related to terminal illness or death. His mother died 5 years ago after a battle with cancer. It’s almost impossible for him to listen to my hardship.

I’m trying to look at the bright side. Both of my grandparents are well into their eighties. They’ve been relatively healthy until the past few years. My grandpa’s mind started going decades ago, so that doesn’t count. And I have great relationships with both of them.

I just keep remembering the last time I saw my grandma. She looked like her old self, but it wasn’t really her. She was impatient, testy, forgetful. Gone was the old sweetness. It was a dulled, tarnished version of her. I can’t believe that I’ll never have her back.

jellytoes, I’m thinking comforting thoughts at you as hard as I can!

My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago, at the tender age of 92. Ever since Christmas, we knew the end was near - she just wasn’t herself any longer. She was ready to go, and passed away on her own terms.

One of the things that is helping me the most is to just remember her in her “prime” - telling people about the summers I spent with her, and all of the interesting things she did. My father and I looked through what felt like zillions of photos; they reminded me that she really did live a long, full, and happy life. Maybe it would ease your heart some, even though it will hurt at first, to start doing some of that.

And absolutely talk to your relatives who want to know more about her life. It’ll help you remember the good stuff and what a great lady she is instead of the current bad situation, and it will help her live on in the hearts of more people - that is always a good thing. Honor her by helping them know the grandma you knew.

jellytoes, please know that I’m thinking about you and understand how you feel. I lost my grandmother last fall at the age of 102 – even though she lived to such an amazing age, it’s still hard to imagine the world without her in it. Treasure your memories, and remember all the good things; they’ll stay with you far longer than everything else, and you’ll honor her by your memories of her.

I also highly recommend hospice. My dad was on hospice before his death from Parkinson’s in '98, and my mom simply could not have done it without their assistance. And my grandmother was on hospice the last few weeks before her death, too, and again they were a huge help. I’ll never forget my dad’s last few hours, when the hospice nurse sat with my mom and me and explained what he was going through and really helped us understand and believe that he was just taking the next step of his existence, and her gentle acceptance of the whole process played such a big part in allowing him to exit this world with dignity and grace. Not to mention what a help it was for us, too! So do contact them if you can; it’s an organization I can’t speak highly enough of.

Alzheimer’s is brutal. So sorry to hear about her.

My grandpa’s mom is in her 90’s and is pretty far along with Alzheimer’s. My grandpa came to visit her one day with a box of chocolates as a gift. She threw them at him and screamed all sorts of obscenities at him (when the nursing home staff calmed her down, it turns out she didn’t even know he was her son…she thought he was some masher trying to ask her on a date!).

I’ve lost a grandma and grandpa myself and I know how helpless you feel. All I can say is…as much as you can, try to surround yourself with the good memories of her. It’s tough to do, but it helps a little.

After my great-grandma died my mom and a few of my aunts and uncles dug up an old home movie that had a scene with her going up the porch steps in her old, ratty army boots that she did her gardening in. They rewound that scene again and again till it looked like she was doing some weird dance, and we were all in stitches. It was a great soothing balm to be able to remember the good things and laugh again, after all the sadness.

Hang in there.

I’m sorry to hear about your Grandmother. I know it’s difficult for you to see her like this, but my best advice would be to spend as much time with her as you can and cherish every moment. Sit by her bedside and tell her everything that is on your heart, her spirit will know that you are there. Hold her hand and tell her the stories that you remember growing up and how much you love her.

I wish you all the best and you are in my prayers.

I haven’t had the experiences that others here have had, so if I may just offer a hug? ((( jellytoes )))
I’m sorry.

Thanks for the support and advice guys (and to the lurkers, thanks for listening). It helps more than you know to be able to read all the well-wishes when I am feeling lower than low.

Satyricon, I’ve heard so many horrible stories about Alzeheimers. I’m grateful to whatever fates there are that my grandma hasn’t progressed as far as your dad’s grandmother. That’s a comfort at least.

Strange as it may seem, it’s nice to know that there are other people out there who have gone through this and survived. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me.

I am having a slightly disturbing attraction to elderly people lately. I just want to go up and give them a hug. Or get a hug. There is a gentleman that works in the chemistry lab at school who is slightly younger than my grandparents. I found myself going to chat with him at every chance I got today. I even considered asking him out to lunch but thought it might be odd. I guess I am just hyperaware right now and my pain is reaching out to everyone. I don’t know.

I also realized today that my grandma will never see me married. Mr. Toes and I are planning a wedding after we are finished with college, which is about 2 years from now. It’s heartbreaking. She loves weddings and has told me how much she is looking forward to my wedding. I can’t stand the thought of her not being there to wish me well.

Hey, just wanted to say, my grandmother died recently, after years of what I wouldn’t call Alzheimer’s but more like plain senility, although that’s where they put her originally, the Alzheimer’s ward.

I have no conception of a hospice… the nursing home my grandmother was in continued to leave cellophane trays of food in her room over and over, despite her lack of teeth… they literally piled up in her room.

I am glad your grandmother seems to be in a nice safe place.