*The image above is representative only.
My Personal Connection
My grandmother was one of the most sprightly people you would ever meet. Every time I visited India, she used to greet me with a smile on her face and make any sweet I wanted. She was a lively and energetic person, and I never thought that her out of all people would suffer from Alzheimer’s. I never noticed any signs until a few years later. My grandmother and I were having a conversation but she wouldn’t make eye contact with me. At the time, I thought she was angry with me, until I observed she acted the same way with everyone. I was slightly upset at first, yet I brushed it off thinking that it was nothing.
A striking event that I will forever remember happened that very year. My grandparents and I were seated in the living room when suddenly my grandmother collapsed. The next thing I knew, she was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. A few hours later, I went and visited her in the hospital where she was connected to IV tubes administering medicines into her body. From that moment onward, I knew that everything would change. My grandmother returned from the hospital a couple days later, yet there was a subtle change in her which would lead to significant ones in the future. She didn’t have the same sparkle in her eyes and avoided all eye contact when she spoke. Eventually, she completely stopped speaking and our conversations became one-sided. When I asked my mother why this was so, she told me that she was diagnosed with mid-stages of Alzheimer’s.
Things only started deteriorating from this point. When I visited India the next year, my grandmother was bedridden. A nurse had to help her with everyday functions such as eating and drinking. However, she soon forgot how to recognize and respond to people. The only person she still responded to was my grandfather. I had never imagined that my grandmother would forget who I was, it was truly heartbreaking. Doctors called her condition the advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. Her condition was relatively stable for a couple of years after but things started to worsen again due to common health issues such as cold, cough, and fever. When she was sick, she could not recover fast enough and that increased the complexity of her overall health. In some cases, even giving her medicine proved to be challenging. Admitting her to the hospital became a frequent event, even for the common cold and cough. This resulted in stress for my family, especially my grandfather.
On Saturday, August 19th I had completed my first week of high school and was ready to enjoy the weekend. However, I heard my father speaking on the phone and the words: Stopped breathing… and CPR… were said. I was confused at first, but the moment that my father called my grandmother’s brother I knew: she was no more. My grandmother was cremated on Wednesday, August 30th in the afternoon. I didn’t feel sad anymore because I had seen her suffer for 5 years due to Alzheimer’s, and was glad that she was finally at peace.
After speaking with my father I was able to get a complete picture of how my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s and the reason for the fast progression of the disorder. It seems she had prolonged depression which developed into Alzheimer’s. It all boils down to four major factors: lack of attention from her family, lack of knowledge about the disorder, lack of medicines, and her own lack of self-awareness.
Mental health is a serious topic which should be paid more attention to. In many communities, symptoms of dementia are dismissed as processes that occur due to aging. Awareness is a key factor to help prevent and slow down disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Paying attention to family members’ behavior and oneself will greatly influence the quality of mental health. Spreading awareness also contributes greatly to finding cures to these disorders. Everything makes a difference.
What will be your contribution?