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My Kid Vs. Your Kid: A Grandma, Her Memory, and Her Aversion to Green

on September 23 | in Uncategorized | by | with 14 Comments

[info_box]Guest Blogger #7: Kristine Dessinger. Kristine (aka Kiki) is the full-time caretaker of Grandmapotamus.  In her “free time,” Kristine enjoys playing with her niece Katie and her nephew Micah, visiting friends, learning Mandarin Chinese, leading worship, and participating in outreaches to victims trapped in the sex industry.  She is passionate about the nations, worship, and mentoring.[/info_box]

I have a very non-crunchy kid.  She is 87, and she’s my grandma.  Her idea of a good meal includes anything fried, processed, sugared, or sweetened with artificial sweeteners.  I can visualize the looks of horror on your faces right now.  Oh, and did I mention that she’s a redhead?  Let’s add hair dye to the list of toxins she adores.  My kid has some memory problems.  Sometimes she can’t remember her family members’ names, her name, her birthday, the day of the week, or what she just said.  It is very frustrating for her and for her family.

We now have a home with 3 generations living under one roof.  “It takes a village” to care for this red-headed grandma.  Of course, that’s normal for the majority of the world.  I believe it is important to honor our ancestors and care for our aging parents and grandparents.

One thing Grandma has not forgotten is her intention to keep feeding her family members so we will not “look poor.”  So while I am trying to eat healthier foods and limit my sugar intake to 15 grams per day, she is telling me that I need to eat some of her food.  About 5 times per meal she will say that she has more food than I do, and I need to eat hers.

Like most kids today, my kid does not like green vegetables.

I’ve tried cooking many kinds of green veggies, and she just doesn’t like them.  Perhaps she has an aversion to the color green because I can sometimes get her to eat carrots and beets.  I’ve also heard that as people age, they tend to lose their taste buds.  Either way it does not help her condition to have a vitamin deficiency.  In contrast, it is believed that a baby’s taste buds will adapt to whatever foods they are fed.  Dr. Susanna Block says, “Babies who learn to enjoy complex flavors as their palates develop will form good eating habits for life.”

Another thing that Grandma has not forgotten is her intention of marrying me off before she dies.  I believe it is her one remaining goal in life.  She recently tried to match me up with the onion sorter at the grocery store.  He was, after all talking to me (because I asked him a question).  He must be interested.  Forget the fact that he’s at least ten years older and works at the grocery store.  Then there was the radiologist we met this week.  He asked her questions about World War II, and she was his friend for life.  Forget the fact that he was already married.  We are, after all, about the same age.

I recently took my kid to visit her sister.  Packing for my kid is fun because I have to help her pick out matching clothes, go through her suitcase to remove duplicate items, and pack her cranberry juice and prunes.  It just goes to show that you never outgrow your juice box or your dried fruit snack.

And then we have the joys of bedtime.

Your kid doesn’t want to go to bed.  My kid doesn’t want to stay in bed.  She gets up anywhere between 2:30 – 5:30 nearly every morning.  She makes her bed and gets dressed, and then realizes that it’s still dark outside and no one is awake.  So she goes back to bed fully clothed.

It’s difficult to see my grandma this way.  She was such a take-charge kind of person (and still tries to be) who adored me.  She was a nursing home administrator and is used to being the boss.  Now I’m her boss, and she’s not too happy about it.  When she was a nurse, she dispensed pills to the patients.  Now I have to dispense her pills to her.  I’m sure you can imagine what a huge fight that was.  She wants to spend all her time reminiscing about the past.  I want to spend my time imagining the possibilities of the future and doing what I can in the present.

The worst day so far was when I took her to the doctor to get her memory tested.  When she realized what was happening, she was furious.  She started shaking and crying at the same time.  She kept saying, “You think I’m stupid.”  She also said, “I never thought you would do this to me.”  It was very upsetting for both of us.  I was trying to get her some help, but she couldn’t understand that.  I went home and cried that day.  I probably did not handle the situation well, but I’m learning as I go.

Mental illness is something that no one can seem to accept.  It doesn’t help that her best friend had Alzheimer’s Disease.  Alzheimer’s destroys nerve cells in the brain.  This causes memory loss, behavioral changes, speech issues, and problems with thinking and reasoning.  There are several prescription medications for Alzheimer’s.  My grandma’s doctor prescribed Aricept, but because she is now in the insurance coverage gap, it will cost her $220 per month which she is not willing to pay.

I just started looking into natural alternatives.

These natural supplements include Ginkgo, Phosphatidylserine, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Citicoline, Lecithin, and Thiamine (B1).   Poor nutrition can affect memory because green foods are necessary for maintaining healthy brain cells.

According to this site, citicoline “provides key developmental structure and functions like stem cell proliferation, lifelong memory function, and brain and spinal cord development.”  I would like to try citicoline on her, but she already takes so many pills that I don’t know if I can possibly get her to take 4 more pills per day.  I intend to research any liquid forms that are available.  Perhaps I could add it to her “juice box.”

Apparently, heavy metals can also play a part in memory problems.  Heavy metals can prevent the cells from functioning normally and can block neuron repair.  Heavy metal cleanses are available for those who have this  type of toxic overload.

It is also important to build up the spirit of a person with mental illness.  A dear friend from church gave me a pamphlet called “Daily Spirit Blessings” by Arthur Burk and Sylvia Gunter.  She has seen improvement in Alzheimer’s patients when these blessings are spoken over them for a period of time.  I will occasionally read the Bible to my grandma and then read these blessings over her.  She seems to enjoy and receive it.  Another one of my friends has visited patients in the mental ward.  She has seen dramatic changes come over the mentally ill when Scripture is read.  Patients who were previously agitated or aggressive become peaceful and calm.

I know someday soon my kid may get to the point where I can’t take care of her anymore.  She might get violent.  She might walk down the street and get lost.  She might forget who I am.  But until then, I will try to enjoy the time I have with her and create memories (that hopefully) will last.

NOTE FROM MOMMYPOTAMUS: Leave a comment below to help Kristine win the Blog For Mommypotamus and Win Your Own Blog” Contest!

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14 Responses to My Kid Vs. Your Kid: A Grandma, Her Memory, and Her Aversion to Green

  1. Lucy C. says:

    Lovely post, I understand as I just recently took care of my 87 y.o. stubborn but adorable grandma. We love them, don’t we? What I love about hearing those past stories is trying to always dig for details I didn’t catch the first time she told me… I found so many interesting things about my grandma, and it makes me imagine what life was for them back then…

  2. Kristine says:

    Thanks, Lucy. Yes, I have enjoyed hearing the stories from my grandma and grandpa (while he was alive). I was fortunate to have this time to care for them. I know God will reward you for taking care of your grandma.

  3. Daniel says:

    I’ve been wanting to suggest some supplements that could have a positive affect on memory, but I don’t want to come across as controlling in this.

  4. Heather says:

    Although it’s difficult (more for you than for me :) ), I am so glad that both sides of our family have embraced the opportunity to care for our aging parents. Like raising kids it requires a lot of sacrifice, but after caring for my grandma until her passing I cannot imagine doing it any other way.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I believe it’s too easy to insulate ourselves from the realities of life: birth, change, death. Watching my grandma pass on her birthday with no fear, surrounded by her family and satisfied with her life gave me a vision for how I want to feel looking back on my life. Watching her struggles with her health motivated me to take care of my own. My mom, sister and I look back often and laugh about all the funny experiences we had “raising” our beloved Ghi. I know you will, too.

  5. Kristine says:

    Daniel, I would be interested in any supplements in liquid form or pill with high dosage so she only has to take one capsule per day. Most of the supplements I’ve found would require her to take four pills at a time, and she would never agree to take that many additional pills. Thanks!

  6. Kristine says:

    Heather, it’s wonderful that you were able to experience that time with your grandma. I agree that our culture tends to insulate us from the cycle of life and in general does not value the elderly (as much as most other cultures). Caring for Grandma has been a very difficult experience for me (especially when she treats me differently than she did in the past), but God is giving me the grace for it. And these experiences are enabling me to grow as well.

  7. Priscilla says:

    Wow Kristine, that’s quite the uphill climb. Onzettend vell sterkte meid!! As one of those kids whose palette went in reverse and my love for all foods developed into an aversion to anything green I can say now that my dad had his hands full with me, but now that I am in charge of myself, I’ve learned that… while I still won’t eat most–actually hardly any veggies, I find that I’m not totally against drinking them. I have a sensitive palette or so I keep telling my dad when he comes to me with all his ‘natural’ concoctions, LOL! Using my Bullet Express for a couple of months (hated the cleanup part though) I consumed more vegetables in those 2 months than I had in the 20 years before that. It came out with a smoothie-esque taste. It leaves “the good part” behind in the sieve though, but you can use it when baking. I have also used (but don’t yet own) the Health Master processor from Montel. Soups and shakes are great options especially since your gma has a sweet tooth…or two and nothing is left behind (husk wise). The fruit really does overpower the veggies, so it goes down easy at least for this picky eater who really hates green. I think it might be a great means of getting veggies in gma without her seeing any and the lips usually don’t taste what the eyes don’t see. Even one pill a day over a year is a lot in her system… I wish my aunt were still here, she was a “natural junkie”–she’d know what to do. I’m happy your gma has you and you get to have great memories.
    Hope you win the blog. You can really help to bring awareness to the situation.

  8. Kristine says:

    Priscilla, thanks for the great idea! I should try smoothies on her. :) And I can spike mine. haha

  9. Lety says:

    What a wonderful post! May God bless you and your family.

  10. Kristine says:

    Lety, thank you for your kind words!

  11. Steve says:

    I praise God for your patience with grandma. I know it’s been hard on you. I especially miss the times we used to go out walking together. Can’t leave grandma alone for very long, can we? The lack of exercise is really bogging me down. Perhaps we can take turns going out walking. Sure will miss your company though.

  12. Melodie says:

    I really enjoyed this because out of all my family members I am the one everyone has seen to be the one who might care for her when she can no longer care for herself. Before I met my husband I was pretty sure I would be moving to the town where I grew up, where she still lives, to be her “roommate” and eventually caretaker. But at almost 89 she still lives alone and still does almost everything for herself. I worry about her though. And I wonder, when she does get to that point, who will be there for her? I have two daughters now who need me full time, my mom works and needs to work full time at 56, and my uncles are busy with their own families too, plus they don’t really want to care for her. She will refuse up and down to go to a care home though. Sigh. I guess we’ll wait and see. That’s wonderful your grandma has you though. Thanks for the post!

  13. Kristine says:

    Dad, yes, I want to do some walking. The weather is finally cooling off. We will have work something out.

  14. Kristine says:

    Melodie, I have a couple of friends who feel like they are in the same predicament. They are the caring ones, and they know that other family members will refuse to be involved when the time comes. You are fortunate that your grandma is still independent. That’s great! I’m sure if and when the time comes, you or other family members will rise to the occasion. My dad first convinced his parents to move into a retirement community when they were no longer able to care for their house. Then a few years later, he tried to convince them to move down here with us. It wasn’t until my grandpa was ill and in the hospital and then in nursing home care that my grandpa finally agreed. He knew it would be difficult for the family members to adapt to each other. I think anytime people live in community, they are forced to mature. :) I’m grateful for the time I had with grandpa before he passed on last year. And I know I will be grateful for this time with my grandma as well.

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