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Aspects of Aging – Grandma’s Story


Jake Thacker

This story may not be a typical example of how families manage the tough decisions around finding a suitable care home for “Grandma” but it is such a touching one that I am sharing it with families to remind them of the incredible inner strength of the Grandmas in our lives.

Every inch and ounce of this 4’10” apple-cheeked, white-coiffed, 90-year-old grandma was furiously committed to defying her family’s wish to admit her to a residential care home as her dementia was progressing.

After weeks of family meetings and second-guessing, four strapping sons from their Saskatchewan farms arrived to do the job of convincing theirMum to make the move. I had been working with the family and was asked to accompany them and “Grandma” as they were absolutely convinced that there was going to be a war at the door of the care home. They loved and respected her greatly and were so distressed by their task that two of the four sons were sobbing, Grandma was grimly quiet and the other two sons tried valiantly to make me understand that this event was going to end in total chaos.

My process was to ask the “boys” to go for a walk and give me half an hour with Grandma. She held my hand and we went for a walk through the home, admiring colours, flower arrangements, the house cat and the rooms which seemed to appeal to her sense of coziness. We ended up at a table with a very nice presentation of tea and cakes; frequent wonderings about where the boys were and interestingly, did I like this big house. My positive and reassuring chat seemed to calm her and she began to look around and smile.

Soon I saw one face after the other peeking around the door with looks of astonishment. We welcomed them back and the first words from Grandma were, “ You boys come here quick and look at my beautiful new house.”

The tears began again, but this time in relief, love and celebration.

Written by Anne Duggan, Invited Advisor to Bell Alliance on Aspects of Aging

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