Grandma is 88 years old. Her hair is snowy-white, her skin is wrinkled, and her teeth are all but gone. She is also quite deaf. Otherwise, she is strong and active, often arguing with my mother over who should mop the floor.

The doctor said she has Alzheimer’s disease, which means she is senile. It is a sad but true fact.

The one glaring symptom of her disease is that her memory is very bad. She either can’t remember things or gets them all mixed up. She forgets where she kept things and often frantically searches for them. Then she forgets what she is searching for, which adds to her frustration. When she misplaces her spectacles, she uses someone else’s pair and happily goes about the house. How she manages to see with the wrong spectacles baffles me.

As much as she cannot remember recent things, she can recall her younger days vividly. She rattles off the names of people she knew back then, but often gets my name and other family members’ names wrong. She might not remember whether or not she’d just had dinner, but she can remember an event that happened fifty years ago very clearly. Sometimes she can be very difficult, though. Her being almost deaf does not help matters either. We have to speak loudly for her to hear.

Sometimes she says we are scolding her. We shout to say we are not scolding her, which makes things worse. We got her a hearing-aid, but she never wear it.

In between her bouts of crankiness, she sometimes seems normal. But this seems to be getting lesser as her disease progresses. We do our best to keep her out of harm’s way. We lock the medicine cabinet and doors, and hide dangerous things from her. It would be disastrous if she swallowed a bottle of pills by mistake or got lost while wandering about in the streets. The latter has happened before, but a kind neighbour brought her home safely.

It is unfortunate that the last years of her life has to be like this, but it is so. And all we can do is help her along as much as we can.


Tell us: Do you still have grandparents and do they struggle with any illnesses?