Mar 3, 2010

Make Him Put on an Undershirt

It was Great Grams’s very last night at home. It had been a horrible night.....
By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room

It was Great Grams’s very last night at home. It had been a horrible night. She had climbed out of bed several times and fallen on the floor on her way to the bathroom, half-dressed (probably half-dressed because she had been changing out of her nightgown, planning her next escape.)

She was on home hospice. We had called the emergency number several times that night. She hadn’t slept at all. None of us slept.

The hospice nurse said she would come out to see her in the morning. We were glad. We didn’t understand that it was hospice coming to relieve themselves of having this very difficult patient as their client. Apparently, she was too sick for hospice.

Morning came. It was a bright day and it was a bright Great Grams that sat at the kitchen table to talk to the hospice nurse.

The nurse “suggested” we take Great Grams to the hospital – that maybe she had a urinary tract infection that had caused her off-the-wall behavior during the night.

Great Grams agreed to go to the hospital! She seemed rational. She wanted help for this possible infection.

Hospice said she would be taken off the list if she went to the hospital for antibiotics. I think that was their plan.

So the hospice nurse left. Great Grams took off her rings and handed them to my grandmother. Great Grams said she didn’t want to lose them in the hospital.

The last thing Great Grams said before she went out the door for the last time was to my mom, about me. She said, “Make sure he puts on an undershirt so he won’t catch a cold!” (Great Grams really believed in the power of undershirts.)

Then, she went out the door, making total sense, thinking about my well-being.

By later that day the hospital psychiatrist said she couldn’t believe the rapid deterioration in Great Grams and was surprised that Great Grams had deteriorated so that she was now non-verbal!

I want to understand this disease. The more I understand, the more I will be able to help those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Max Wallack is a student at Boston University Academy. His great grandmother, Gertrude Finkelstein, suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Max is the founder of PUZZLES TO REMEMBER , a 501(c.)3 charitable organization. PUZZLES TO REMEMBER is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and other institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

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Original content Max Wallack, the Alzheimer's Reading Room