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The Elderly...our Discarded People

Hello my lovelies, happy Wednesday, today I would like to introduce you to my grandma who I affectionately call Viejita, which means "old" in Spanish but has been my term of endearment for her since I could speak. I want to share her with you because she is a very important part of my life. Well aren't all grandmas, you may think? No, not really is the cold honest answer.

this was on my 1st b'day

My Viejita's name is Juana some would translate her name in English to Joana. She came to this country from the Dominican Republic in 1971. She never learned English and she never really took the time to perhaps grasp the idea that coming to this country could be a new opportunity to have a new life, a different adventure, a whole new journey. Instead she chose to stay within her closed walls and not venture out further than several blocks within her neighborhood. It wasn't until I got older and could truly understand did I grasp the disservice that her children, my family had done to her.

these are random ones I make her pose for, she loves it

You see my grandma is almost 92 years old now, she has 5 children, 14 grandchild and several great grand children I am not sure of the number but my daughter is one of them. We are not a close knit family and haven't been for many years. She suffers from Alzheimer's disease and every day brings a different challenge. We are still in the early phase, meaning she still has chunks of some memories but many things day by day get lost. Many years are lost, many people have been forgotten.

alzfdn.org
webmd.com

I have spoken and shared some things in the past but today I wanted to make it all about her and the joy she brings me not the days I want to pull my hair out or scream at the top of my lungs or my eyes fill with tears because of things she says because trust me I have those too. I am the only grandchild she sees. My daughter is the only great grandchild she still at times can remember. I do everything for her with the help of 3 amazing Home Attendants I've managed to find. I am the only link to her past.

1st b'day, me as baby on her lap & with my mom & aunt

We have 43 years of history yet she remembers few, I remember them all. She has always been a part of my life. Baby sitting when I was born so my mom could go to work, watching me after school during my elementary years, lending me money when I decided to move out of my mother's house, watching her go from a regular apartment to senior housing, visiting with her and having someone else doing her cooking, I miss her cooking. Seeing her grow older and sadder, watching her lose neighbors and friends, forgetting a thing here a name there. Being told of her disease and what that meant long term. Seeing how the family couldn't deal with her temper and foul moods and slowly just staying away all together. This and so much more has filled my 43 years.

I had her put on my Shearling coat and pose we have similarities 

Today even in the rough spots I try to laugh. When she doesn't recognize me I make it a game there is a line in a Jay Z song "allow me to Reintroduce myself my name is" and I go from there. I comb her hair and I ask her questions, I teach her English words which she forgets shortly after but it is great to hear her laughter as she tries. I buy her candy, I sit on her lap, I take pictures and videos of her often. Her face when she sees herself is priceless! I imagine she can only recall how she use to look so to see this person staring back at her it must be like a stranger. Those are my teary moments but...then she says something like " I'm still pretty right"? and those tears go away.

great granddaughter moment with my lil mama

She is still very vain and meticulous about her appearance. She is also very strong and moves about pretty swiftly for her age which surprises us and brings roars of laughter when we make fun of her and she jumps up to chase us with her fists raise! What a treat. She is affectionate when she feels comfortable with you and loves to be hugged and kissed. She sticks her cheek out for a kiss when she knows you which is funny to see.

say cheese!, she couldn't get over herself in the camera!

I call her daily and visit weekly but sometimes my duties require I drop in more often during the week. On my daily calls we speak for about 10/15 minutes max and it is the same conversation over and over. She doesn't remember you already spoke on that. Same with the visits we talk about the same things but once I accepted my new role and made peace with my new Viejita I handle things differently.

I titled this post "Our Discarded People" because many of our elderly are. Aging is part of life but hard to deal with for some after a certain number and add to that medical issues and it can destroy even the strongest of the strong. Take this share as a nudge to pay more attention to your elders, to express how much they mean to you today while they still can understand it and appreciate it. Use this share as a jumping board to better planning for your own future.
I have no idea what she would like or what many of her wishes are. I wing it, I think about how I would want to be treated and act accordingly.

I'm always playing around with pics, this is our hands, on the left I was 2 and on the right is present day. I have on a black sweater, she is always holding my hand.

Make an effort to engage with an elderly person, watch them light up when you "Acknowledge" their existence, society has forgotten them and thrown them away. Be kind, be gentle, embrace them, they too want to be loved. Even if when you walk away...they have forgotten you.

Always stress free xo.

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