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I may have Alzheimer’s, but at least I don’t have Alzheimer’s.

This past Easter Sunday was the first holiday meal with my family where my grandmother wasn’t present. And while we had additional guests who made the dinner an even more enjoyable event, it wasn’t quite the same without the matriarch sitting in her chair simultaneously loving and judging each of us equally.

Two weeks prior, my grandfather made the decision to move his wife out of their house and into a center for Alzheimer’s patients. She had reached a point where he was unable to take care of her and her condition would likely deteriorate if she remained home. It was a difficult choice, but one that the entire family supported, and now she is able to get round-the-clock care and an environment that will prove more beneficial to her. It was recommended that leaving the home to go to my parents’ house for Easter, so soon after being admitted, might be too confusing and distracting for her, so we proceeded without her.

Since I typically only see my family during holidays, on Monday, I decided, after a doctor’s appointment in that area, that I would go visit my grandmother for a few minutes before heading back to Altamonte Springs. I had never been to her new residence before, so I got directions from a relative and headed over. It was a nice looking compound with two buildings designed to house residents. I parked and headed for the building on the right.

To get into the building, there was a keypad on the door. I put the code in (which was my birthday, coincidentally enough) and entered right into a large, very quiet, seating area with tables and couches. There were about 10 or 15 senior citizens scattered throughout the room. They talked quietly or watched television quietly or sat staring at a wall quietly. In a corner, a nurse (or assistant or whatever) sat, reading a book, quietly. As you can imagine, it was very quiet.

I saw my grandmother sitting with her back to me at the table, a full plate of food in front of her, head down with her forehead resting directly on the table. I walked up and patted her on the back. “Nana,” I said, speaking in hushed tones.

“Yeah,” her voice faded out with a bit of a mumble, not moving from her pose. With her gray curls covering her face, I had to strain to hear her.

“It’s me, Adam. Your grandson.” I added for context, just in case it was a bad day for her. I rested my hand on her frail shoulder, which was surprisingly fragile for a woman who I remember to be so very strong.

“I don’t have an Adam,” she sighed, still refusing to lift her head.

“Yes you do!” I spoke louder, as if that would help lift the fog for her. “I’m your grandson. Robyn’s son!”

“Who’s Robyn?” she whispered, even quieter than before. “hh…ah…hmlhje…”

“What’s that, Nana?”

She continued to mumble something that I couldn’t even try to understand. By this point, I was down on my knees, with my face about an inch away from her, just so I could understand her faintest word. I continued to reassure her by rubbing her back gently with my right hand. “Nana, it’s Adam. Why don’t you lift your head and look at me?” With my left hand, I gripped her hand gently.

“No.” I almost jumped at the volume. “Go away, I don’t know who you are.” Even though I understood that she didn’t mean it, it still stung.

“Nana,” I touched the side of her face, still covered by the curls. “Please, it’s me.” With a finger under her chin, I gently lifted her head from the table, just wanting to actually make eye contact and see if I was making any progress.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” She screamed, throwing one hand to the side, causing a fork and knife to fly off the table with a clatter. I jumped up, my heart beating a rhythm in my ears.

She turned to look at me in complete and utter fear and that’s when I realized that I had just frightened this poor old lady who was telling me the truth, because I was not her grandson and she was most definitely not my grandmother.

My grandmother was in the other building.

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53 Replies to “I may have Alzheimer’s, but at least I don’t have Alzheimer’s.”

  1. Kim

    Good post. And it made me laugh.My “granny” Louise Gredell Trimble died from alzheimers. She was calling me “Billy” ( my fathers name ) near the end.

    ( and just as a note my great grandmother drove a convertible every day of her life…and this was her daughter)

    And telling me she wanted a pecan.

    My Granny loved Brach’s peppermints. Would carry a herd of them everywhere.

    In the end , she confused mints for pecans.

    Life is shit sometime.

    Especially with stuff like this.

    Hope you will be ok.

  2. Valerie

    So when you actually spoke with your grandmother did she know who you were? I’m going through this with my grandmother too and she doesn’t recognize me. Very sad. It’s depressing because it skips a generation supposedly and my grandfather on the other side had it.

  3. ChickenLiver

    I was on the verge of tears damn you!
    Then I laughed, thanks I needed that.

    My grandmother had Alzheimer’s for about 15 years. It was so hard to watch this vibrant active woman reduced to a shell of what she once was. She would forget the names of her children and forgot almost all of us grand kids. I actully lived with her for two months over the summer when I teen to help her out. It ended when I came home from the store and she had called the police to say a stranger stole her car. ( I drove her car to the store.) Soon after we put her in a home.

  4. Connie

    OMG this made me laugh. Sorry, but it proves we are all a little off and I have lived through the big “a” in painful ways. Thanks for putting a funny face on it. I will tell you my A stories one day.

  5. Faiqa

    Hahahaha!! Posts like these are ahy I read your blog every day. Well don, my friend, well done.

    Also? Your a shitty son for only seeing your family on holidays. They live thirty damned minutes away.

  6. Lin

    You evil, yet funny man. This had me in near tears then I laughed. My grandfather had Alzheimer’s for 10 years before dying. It’s an ugly, ugly disease. But this,,, THIS was hysterical. The lucky thing for the poor woman in your story is that she has already forgotten all about you. And yet gave you some blog fodder.

  7. Jennifer

    My grandfather died from complications from Alzheimer’s.

    I really hope that you weren’t making that all up for the sake of a laugh. If it was true, it was cute. But I find it hard to find humor in this disease unfortunately.

    I watched a man go from being strong, independent, funny and loving life, to someone who drooled, wore diapers and cried all the time. At the end the only one he recognized was my grandmother. He would cling to her when she came to help him eat three times a day, and would sob and beg her to stay when she had to leave.

    It broke my heart to see my grandmother, who had been with this man for 50 years of her life be at a complete loss in her own life. She had to step up and take care of him. When he started to wander in the night, and started to shove her when she would try to stop him from leaving, she had to make the heartbreaking choice to put him in long term care.

    But now that you scared the shit out of the woman, at least you can be assured that she forgot the incident by the time you did see your grandma.

  8. Avitable

    Amanda, well, I almost shat myself, so I’m sure she did!

    Kim, my grandmother’s not as coherent as yours was. She mainly mumbles.

    Valerie, she recognized me at first, I think. But towards the middle of my visit I’m pretty sure she had no idea who I was.

    Dave2, now that is a genius idea.

    Chrissi, leave it up to me to terrify a little old lady with Alzheimer’s.

    Elizabeth, yeah. Nobody in my family was surprised that I did that.

    Amanda, poor Adam!

    CL, my grandmother’s had it for a few years, and it’s just slowly gotten worse and worse.

    Connie, no apologies – I posted it because I knew that I was a moron and it would make people laugh!

    Beth, I’m telling the truth!

    Catherine, laughing at like this is kind of like punching a nun. You feel bad, but it still feels so good.

    Daduck, originally, I ended it with “This is not my grandmother” and I realized that everybody would take that figuratively, not literally.

    Sarah, that is how it happens to most people. Leave it up to me to do the reverse. Sigh.

    Faiqa, how about “you’re”? And how frequently would you visit your family if they didn’t insist on coming over constantly, hmm?

    Poppy, it’s okay – she won’t remember.

    Lin, I bet the nurse there bans me from that building, though.

    Jennifer, oh no, it’s completely true. It just happened yesterday morning.

  9. NYCWD


    That’s both so sad and hilarious at the same time.

    Just fucking wow.

    Not To Self: Be sure to get admitted into Floridian nursing homes… because their security is obviously for shit

  10. Squeaky Wheel

    …and yet, I can’t help but think that maybe the mix-up wouldn’t have occurred if you had visited your family more frequently. On the other hand, my dad lives 30 minutes away and invites me over for the odd lunch on Sundays, but he works 5 minutes from where I live and never comes over. So I “get” it.

    That poor old woman. She’ll probably be scared of large, bearded men for her remaining time and have no recollection of why. 😛

  11. Sheila (Charm School Reject)

    Luckily, I’m not wearing mascara today (not that this really any different from any other day so I’m not sure why it’s lucky but ANYWAY) because this had me in tears.

    And then I almost peed myself laughing.

    I hope that your real visit with Nana went well.

    If I could get away with only seeing my family for major holidays, that would be really freakin’ awesome.

  12. whall

    Oh, Dave2, I love your pictures! And that little mini-dave thing and the evil monkey guy are really sweet! I love how you find the time to blog every day, even if it is just a little picture of something. Keep it up, Dave2!

  13. DaDuck

    now see, I would have gotten that on the first read, instead I was all weepy and understanding as my grandmother had Alzheimer’s too.

    I think you should have a video camera attached permanently to you because we all would have loved to see that womans face.

  14. Avitable

    SciFi Dad, it’s the only thing I could talk about without incriminating myself.

    NYCWD, it’s a small town and there’s a code on the door. Each guest’s relatives set their own code, so if you have a code, they assume you’re a relative of one of the guests.

    Jules, it was a little better. There was less screaming.

    Robin, well, and the younger generation is the most fun.

    Squeaky Wheel, visiting family is low on my priorities. I have work to do!

    Sheila, the real visit went okay, but not great. She’s pretty bad.

    Sybil, except for the non-awesome parts!

    Finn, aww, thanks.

    Popping Bubbles, I usually scare ones who will remember it!

    Nanna, well, it’s still sad. My grandmother has deteriorated pretty badly.

    Dawn, such is my life.

    Whall, are you on your period? Your humor has been awfully antagonistic recently, especially for you.

    Jason, I don’t mind if you post links at all.

    Beth, maybe it will stay in my memory because it happened when I was young!

    Atomic Bombshell, I think she remembered me, but she drifted off course pretty badly during the conversation and I’m not sure if she realized who I was by the time I left.

    Idle Mind, laughter is always appropriate!

    DaDuck, I should just have one implanted in my cornea.

    Britt, like I said to him, it’s a separate security code for each guest’s family members, so if you know a code, it’s assumed you’re a family member.

    DB, me too, but for different reasons.

  15. Grant

    Are you sure your grandmother has Alzheimer’s? Maybe she’s just confused because a lot of strangers have been approaching her claiming to be forgotten relatives.

    I hope you covered yourself. “My beloved nana doesn’t recognize me. Nurse, up her medications at once!”

  16. Little Miss Sunshine State

    I used to do home care for people with Alzheimers.

    This is a serious suggestion. Because the short-term memory goes before the long-term, when patients didn’t remember someone, we would show them an older picture. A grandmother might remember an older grandchild if she was shown one of their childhood pictures.

    My best Alzheimers story…I had a patient (female) who insisted that she was going to church wearing nothing but a blouse. We had quite the argument. I won, she got dressed and we were only 10 minutes late for church.

  17. floating princess

    Great story! At first I was thinking aww he’s being all serious with a poingant grandma story, and then I was imagining the baby in the dinosaurs show from the 90’s going “Not the grandma! Not the grandma” and laughing my butt off.

  18. Chris

    Outstanding and hilarious. That poor woman. Of course, you COULD have just gone with it and let her think that her busted hip could somehow have degenerated into advanced Alzheimer’s. Nothing like practical jokes on the elderly.

  19. Avitable

    Grant, I just knocked her unconscious and set the whole place on fire.

    LMSS, that’s an excellent idea.

    Floating Princess, I have no idea what show you’re talking about.

    Chris, I usually just mug them and steal their purses and wallets.

  20. Tiffany

    My grandpa had dementia. The last two years he was alive, he quit speaking English and the only thing we understood was when he was cussing us out in German, French, or Spanish. Good thing he taught me those words.

    Oh… one day a few years before he died, he insisted he was going to this guys funeral. He had on a nice 3pc suit and was yelling at me that we had to leave or we’d be late. It was hard to explain to him that the guy had been dead for 30 years.

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