This past year, my grandfather died. Though he’d been ill, it was still sudden and distressful for his four children (including my father).
We offered help to my aunt, the only one who lives in the same state. We assumed there’d be things to move, the house to prepare for sale, and research/funds to move my grandmother who has Alzheimer’s.
My aunt delayed until the annual summer family reunion and a “Celebration of Life.” We accepted this as pragmatic.
Meantime, my grandmother was moved to an assisted-living facility. Communication with my aunt became tense.
She blocked us from Facebook. When my sister (a lawyer) visited my grandmother and spoke to staff, my aunt followed her around.
At the reunion/memorial, her entire family was hostile toward all of us. We found that my aunt had already sold the house and put all of the grandparents’ belongings into storage, but refused to give us access.
All my dad wanted was a wood-shop project he’d made in eighth grade that my grandparents had kept, but she shut us down.
There’s been no mention of a will, which my father and brothers don’t really care about, since they’re all doing well financially. But I’m suspicious. We should’ve been able to see the will.
We’ve discussed visiting my grandmother, but we’re concerned that my aunt may’ve banned us from the care facility (which she’s able to do as primary caregiver).
She’s removed us from the call-list receiving updates about my grandmother’s health or general status in the facility. My dad doesn’t want any more confrontation.
Alzheimer’s is a terrifying disease, and I want to do everything I can to help a person I love. I feel that any sort of company would be a good idea, even if she doesn’t recognize the people visiting.
Should I continue to discuss this idea with my family, or let it go?
Your instinct is right on. Besides consistent, trained attention from the facility’s caregivers, your grandmother also needs caring, trusted comfort, even if she doesn’t recognize the bearer.
I’m personally familiar with this need. Sitting with my uncle, 98, holding his hand while he squeezes mine back and listens to my words. He occasionally nods back to me, but never speaks.
Your aunt and her family have taken charge. They likely felt entitled after being the only ones nearby when your grandparents needed their help.
Since the other potential heirs didn’t pursue the will issue, and there are costs for your grandmother’s stay, let that matter drop.
Visit your grandmother when you can.
Tell your aunt you have no other wish but to sit with her. If she accompanies you, accommodate her.
Focus only on the person who, in a state of loss, changes, confusion, and personal inabilities, will get comfort from your visit.
FEEDBACK Regarding the couple who live apart all week, leaving the wife alone with their baby (Sept 14):
Reader – “He needs to get a job where they live so he can be a full-time husband/father, not just a part-time one.
“She must take responsibility for cheating, instead of blaming Satan. They need counselling.
“Mostly, I strongly believe he needs to live with his wife and daughter. I can’t see how a young marriage with a young child can survive without living together.
“However, there may be a lot of cultural issues creating these problems in the first place, and unless they can deal with those first, it’s possible that counselling will not help them.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman who feels neglected because her boyfriend, a widower, is grieving (Sept. 7):
“The man lost his wife to cancer. The woman who wrote you is selfish and immature.
“She’s behaving so insecure about the love for his late wife that doesn't stop because a person dies.
“If his wife were still living, this couple wouldn't be together.
“Grieving is a process that can come and go and has to be handled with a cycle of emotions.
“There should be no competition about how much he loved his wife and took care of her to the end.
“Any woman would see he’s a man worth being with. This girlfriend isn't deserving of his ability to love.
“Though he loved his wife deeply, it doesn't mean he can't love someone else, less or more.
“I hope he finds someone else who’ll love him so deeply. He sounds like a wonderful man.”
Tip of the day:
Alzheimer’s sufferers still benefit from caring touch and presence.