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How to gain courage to visit my granddad when he's ill

(9 Posts)
hemakesmesad Sun 08-Oct-17 20:44:25

So my granddad has got dementia. Hes in a care Home. Me and my family are not close at all but I respect my grandparents esp my granddad because he’s the only real father figure I had growing up. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents house. We are not a ‘huggy’ Or an emotional family at all! But I really look up to my granddad. I need to see him at the care Home but he won’t know me because he had dementia and I am so scared m. I’ve not seen him since he got really bad and I’m scared of how he’s going to be. I know I’ll get upset seeing him like that and I don’t like crying in front of my Mum and Nan ( like I said emotion is hidden in our family) but I know I wil end up getting upset Because of the way he is now... he’s no longer able to function or remember anyone. How do I cope with seeing Him like that?? I will regret it if I don’t but how do i pluck up the courage to see him??? He means a lot to me!

BeardyDog8371 Sun 08-Oct-17 20:50:11

Remember the good times and think of them when you go to visit.

Talk about these good times when you're there with your grandad. I would avoid asking him if he remembers because this might make you upset.

Don't be worried about crying in front of your family OP. Dementia is a cruel, heartless illness and is upsetting.

It will be sad to see your grandad as an ill man but it is so important to be there for himflowers

Sahara123 Sun 08-Oct-17 21:05:13

Oh lovely I’m so sorry to read this. I know exactly how you feel, my dad had dementia and I used to visit as often as I could, it was so far away. I’m not going to lie, I did find it upsetting, but there were certain things we did to help. It’s hard to say whether your grandfather will recognise you or not, my dad didn’t know me but did know my husband, dementia is very strange, there’s no logic to it at all. Will someone be able to come with you? What we used to do was take my dad up to his room with us, rather than sit in a communal area which can be quite noisy and distracting, also a bit upsetting. Try to think of things he used to enjoy, and take little things which might jog his memory, we took music, dvds, photographs, I even took postcards showing places he used to know. Just little things you can chat about. Try to think of it that although he may seem a different person now he is in a safe place and is cared for. See if there’s a member of staff you can have a chat with.
Don’t worry about crying, I think I probably did every time as I left. You love him so it’s understandable. Think of it as doing something for him . Be brave, it’s very hard but as you say you might regret not going.
Take care

NoSquirrels Sun 08-Oct-17 21:14:19

I'm sorry, OP. It sucks. I think your fear of how you'll react is actually worse than the reality will be, honestly.

When my DGM was in a care home, and didn't really know us, visits felt strange but after a while you got used to it - she clearly didn't know us anymore, but would ask politely how we were and we'd just try to keep a one-sided conversation going, hold her hands, that sort of thing.

If you cry it's OK, but I think maybe you'll surprise yourself. You love your DGD, and that's all that really matters.

Allesda Sun 08-Oct-17 21:22:43

My mother has Alzheimer's, in the moderate stages now. My grandmother had dementia and the way I thought of it was she may not know who we are anymore, but we still know who she is. To me, knowing I'd done the right thing by feeding her, washing her, reading to her meant a lot to me and I was grateful for the chance to do it. Maybe your visit to your grandad will brighten up his day and you can be glad of that.

I come from a very large extended family so would have been used to seeing elderly and sometimes infirm relatives growing up so it was never anything to be afraid of, it was just part of life.

Bizzysocks Sun 08-Oct-17 21:22:50

Are you very young op? Could you go on your own so can have a good cry on your own after before you head home?

My grandad is in a home with dementia. He has good and bad days. He seems to recognise me but doesn't know who I am , but knows I'm a friendly face, if that makes sense.

I just chat about today, as its just me and him i can waffle on with out feeling self concious. It's windy out today, nice and warm in here, does he want a cup of tea. Boys at football this morning/scored a goal, not liking school as would rather be at the park etc. He has a photo album and I show him the boys when talking about them. Mum is away this weekend gone to Scotland etc . The view from the windows etc. Sit in silence a bit.

I can tell my grandad enjoys a visit. I'm sure he will sense you are there and care for him and will be glad of your visit.

corythatwas Sun 08-Oct-17 23:34:15

I would try to focus on what Bizzysocks says about a friendly face. Try to think not so much about how you will react but what you can do for him just by speaking to him in a kindly way and holding his hand- even if he doesn't recognise you he will probably still benefit from the friendliness and that will be something you have done for him.

I don't know what age you are, but I was 17 when my grandmother came to visit us: nothing had been said but it became very apparent that she was indeed suffering from dementia, and for various complicated reasons I ended up having to care for her during her visit. It was a bit scary but afterwards it was a comfort to me to know that I had made her life a little bit better.

My MIL died recently, and during the months she was dying we took our own 17yo up frequently to sit by her bedside. She was not confused but she was very ill and in a lot of pain. It can't have been easy for him to see. But at the same time it did bring her some comfort, and he will have the consolation of knowing that now.

HeddaGarbled Mon 09-Oct-17 00:23:29

Why do you want to go and how far gone is he?

When my dad first went into a care home with dementia, he often did not recognise me, though occasionally would, but still seemed to derive some pleasure from having a visitor.

Later, he was so completely out of it, he wasn't really aware that he had visitors at all.

If I hadn't been visiting weekly and so seeing his decline, I would have been shocked and distressed to see him in the later stages, emaciated, agitated, nothing like the man he had been. But just occasionally, there might be a moment when we made eye contact or he allowed me to hold his hand (mostly he wouldn't) when I felt we'd had some genuine contact.

I actually wanted to protect him from occasional visitors. I didn't want them to see what he had been reduced to. He was such a proud man, so dignified, socially reserved. He would have hated people to have seen him in bed in his incontinence pants, with all his dignity and privacy stolen from him.

If there is something that you can do for him, if it will make a difference to him, then visit. If it's too late, I wouldn't bother - better to remember him as he was.

Joysmum Mon 09-Oct-17 07:45:11

There are things you can to to help you. The biggest one is getting in touch with his carers to find out when in the day he is at his best and to visit then.

Go prepared. He may not remember specifics, but chances are he will have the same general interests in things he always did so have a mental list of topics you know he was interested in and see if it prompts him to talk. If not, have observations about them yourself as he may not be cabable of talking.

Try to avoid asking questions about specifics. If he's still talking then he can express feelings even if he doesn't have the memories. You can talk about things you can see if that prompts him. If you do ask a question, make it one with a yes/no answer he could also talk more about. It won't overload him or make him feel inadequate as he'll give as much as he can without feeling silly.

Don't be afraid of silence. Patients get a lot from companionable silence and just having someone with them. It's ok to just sit quietly together and him making the most of your company. Those with dementia lose an ability to communicate before they lose the ability to feel lonely. So just sitting together will be beneficial to him, how ever much it hurts you that he can't do more.

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