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PATTI'S BLOG

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Alzheimer's Project - Review of Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?

The Alzheimer’s Project
 
Grandpa do you know who I am?

 
Of all the segments in the Alzheimer’s Project, I found this one the most difficult to watch. In fact, I cried all the way through. As a mother, it hurt to see all of those vulnerable children who love their grandparents unconditionally, struggle to understand why does my grandparent act this way? Why is this happening to this person that I love? If they love me, why are they acting like this?
 
As adults, we pretend that we understand this disease and that we are not hurt by the behavior of our loved one with AD.   However, many times the adult children and adult grandchildren of my clients tell me they cannot understand why their loved one is being so mean to them. Why is this person so angry? Why does this person hate me so much? Why can’t she remember my name?
 
In one segment of this episode, a grandchild tells that her grandmother had slapped her one day while the grandmother was in the nursing home. Although the granddaughter seemed to intellectually understand that the behavior was a result of the disease, it was apparent that that slap really hurt and that the memory of that slap would remain with the granddaughter for a very long time. Another segment shows a grandmother growling at her grandchild and telling the child to go home. The child’s older sister comforts her and reminds her that the grandmother is ill and does not really know what she is doing.
 
Throughout this segment, we see grandchildren taking care of their grandparents – combing their hair, walking with them, helping them to eat. Although it is painful for them to watch their grandparents deteriorate, I believe that each one of these children will be better for having learned compassion and service.
 
Maria Shriver’s narrative is compelling and true. Here is the daughter of one of the most accomplished, intelligent people in the U.S., and she tells us that she must introduce herself to her father every time she sees him. “Hello, Daddy, I’m your daughter, Maria.”

In the end, though, Maria says she is just happy that he is still here. And I believe that in the end, children and grandchildren of those who suffer with AD are just glad their loved one is still here.


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