Family & Relationships Losing My Grandma To Alzheimer’s Taught Me To Find Joy In the Small Moments
Bake farmer's bread according to Grandma's recipe
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I have never experienced a bond with someone like the one I shared with my grandma — my yiayia, Sotiria Catacalos. All my life, she was more than a grandparent, she was my second mom. Growing up, I would call her every single day. But when I was in college, her dementia progressed to the point she no longer remembered how to use a phone. Later, she advanced to, losing her ability to complete simple acts of independence, like walking, carrying on a conversation, sitting in a chair, and eating solid food. In the shadow of this horrid disease, I'd look at her — her sweet blue eyes — and I'd still see her in there; the person I’ve known my entire life; my person.
The Mediterranean diet would be associated with better cognitive functioning
© MarianVejcik / Istock.com Adopting a Mediterranean diet that limits the consumption of red meat and alcohol in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables could help preserve its cognitive functions. An American analysis has shown that adopting a Mediterranean-style diet can improve brain function.
My grandmother lost her battle to Alzheimer’s in January 2019. But I’m not here to tell you how horrible of a diseaseis, or how to grieve, or that living in a nursing home costs $11,000 a month. I'm not sharing my grandmother's story for sympathy. My yiayia, a Greek immigrant who came to America alone, was brave. She was a fighter, finding a way to raise four children after surviving the Great Depression. She loved harder than her body was able to bear. She did not — does not — need anyone's sympathy.
After a year without her, not a day goes by where the lessons those moments taught me don't crawl to the forefront of my mind. Even in the clutches of Alzheimers, my grandmother remained my teacher. How well she lived, and how much she loved, was, and still is, the foundation of my ever-lasting education. I carry my grandmother with me always, along with these six vital lessons.
Dementia: Food that can increase your risk of Alzheimer's
© iStock istock-1158665362.jpg In people with Alzheimer's, the brain is gradually deprived of its memories and cognitive abilities. This goes hand in hand with the loss of language and comprehension and can lead to the complete annihilation of the personality. The causes that can lead to illness are diverse and are far from being fully understood. A new study, on which the participating researchers comment on the new healthline.com portal, has now examined another possible risk factor - our die
I’ll always be part of a club I never wanted to join.
I’m still not in a place where I’m organizing walks for Alzheimer’s awareness, because something about being in a crowd where the one thing everyone has in common is losing someone to Alzheimer’s scares me. I don’t want to bond with strangers over a disease that has taken so much from me. But I do have friends that understand what I'm feeling — an understanding borne out of their own difficult experiences — and we have this unspoken language that allows us to share the most intimate details of this kind of painful loss without feeling judged.
Days after I lost my yiayia, I got an email notification that one of my best friends donated to thein memory of her. This small act of kindness blindsided me with hope, and on my worst day. From that moment on I realized that I was a part of this club, whether I wanted to be or not, and as a member I did want to raise awareness around this disease. I started writing about my grandma and Alzheimer's five years ago and for a number of publications, partly because I didn’t see a story that related to me. I didn’t see the disease talked about in a way I knew. I will keep talking about it and keep fighting for those who had their voice taken from them by Alzheimer's, because we still have a lot to say.
Alzheimer's disease and diet: Why berries, tea and apples may lower your risk
Navy midshipman Joe Giannini showed Insider the 200-push-up workout he's using to stay in shape for the United States Naval Academy. First, he gave us pointers on how to do a basic push-up with good form. Then he broke down harder styles that isolate specific muscle groups, such as clap push-ups, handstand push-ups, archer push-ups, spiderman push-ups, dive bomber push-ups, and pseudo planche push-ups. These push-ups work your core, abs, triceps, biceps, shoulders, and chest muscles.
Everything is in the small moments.
For the last six years of my yiayia’s life, I visited her in a nursing home once a week. Every time I stepped through those doors, the rest of my life no longer mattered. All the mattered was my grandma. I'd talk with, aids, and other residents about my yiayia's small joys, like her eating her entire breakfast, or the good days when she could hit a balloon back and forth. No one cared where I went to school, what neighborhood I grew up in, what my career goals were, because in the nursing home, none of that mattered. What did matter was how much my grandmother was loved. By me. By my mom. But my sister, brother, and dad. It mattered that we cared enough t o constantly check her file, to see if she was eating or experiencing any abnormalities. What mattered was out relationships with the nurses who took care of her when we couldn't; the ones who went out of their way to braid her hair every morning.
During every visit, I brought her balloons. She loved looking up at them, especially the ones with smiley faces. They always made her smile in return. I’d tie the balloon to her medical chair, then watch as a simple rubber sphere full of helium brought joy to other residents, too. It was the little things that truly mattered — to her, to everyone else in the nursing home, and to me.
What Do Tea, Wine And Dark Chocolate Have In Common?
Apparently, all three of them have been found to reduce the risk of having dementia.Apparently, a new research study has found that tea, wine, dark chocolate and certain fruits and vegetables can significantly lower the risk of having dementia or even Alzheimer’s disease later on in life. This is all thanks to the flavonoids they contain.
A disease can never erase a person.
People will see someone within one of two ways — already gone or still here. During the years my grandmother lived with the disease, some of her family members refused to visit. Not even once. They were “afraid to see her like that,” or argued there was no point because, “she wouldn’t know who they are anyway.” Some didn’t even come see her when she wasn’t doing well in the end, but were the first to post on social media when she passed. A year later, they’re living with a looming guilt, and regret that they weren't there when they should have been. That they didn't comfort my grandmother when she needed it most.
These family members did not know what I intuitively did — that we were my grandmother's keepers. That in caring for her — in feeding her lunch or making sure the aids got her out of bed as often as they should — she would see herself in us, and see us in these moments of kindness and grace. Alzheimer's did not erase who she was, not how she loved. She’d smile at me in a way I’d recognized my entire life. She knew it was me. I knew she was still her.
Moving forward and moving on are two different things.
A few months after I lost my yiayia, I was still struggling to adjust to a routine that didn't have her in it. Every Sunday when she was alive, I would visit her for lunch — she always ate everything when I fed her. Months later, I'd still wake up and think to myself, "It's time to see yiayia," only to instantly realize that wasn't going to happen.
Classic pasta salad in grandma's way
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Moving on and moving forward are two different mindsets. Moving on is the thought of “getting over it,” whereas moving forward is taking your experience, learning from it, celebrating it, and continuing with your life. I’m still learning how to live my life without my grandmother. I'm still barreling forward, wishing I could tell her everything that I've been up to.
Grief never really goes away. And that's OK.
Just because it's been a year since my grandmother died, doesn't mean I miss her less than the day she was taken from the world. The moments when I've been happy — when I've smiled or laughed, enjoyed a night out with friends, or celebrated a milestone — didn't stop me from missing her. You can be happy and still miss someone. You can move forward and still grieve. It's not the type of grieving you see depicted in the movies or on TV. I'm not staying in bed, sobbing heavily, unable to eat.
Profound loss is not something to "get over," and grief is not something you can move through and then discard. It remains with you, always, morphing into variations of itself. I had someone special to lose, someone I loved deeply. And I don't regret it. My grief, however painful, is a reminder that my grandmother lived and loved, and I was made better for it.
When I lost my, I was so afraid that I was going to forget everything. I feared the passing of time; that it would make her just another nostalgic page in a family photo album. I never want to forget. Naturally, I talk about her a lot — someone that was such a big part in my life can’t just be written out of my story.
trailer for "Lucky Grandma": Grandma wins in the casino - and the critics are thrilled!
A chain-smoking elderly woman from Chinatown tries her luck in the casino - and ends up in the middle of the fronts of a gang war.
So, I keep talking about her. I keep writing about her. I keep remembering her. And it's such an easy thing to do, because she was such a big part of my life. In fact, the story of me could not exist without the story of her. But continuing to talk about her is also intentional. Not talking about the loved ones we've lost to Alzheimer's is, in my opinion, letting the disease win. I don’t think of my grandma losing her abilities to function, I think of the fight she gave, every single day, to live the remainder of her life with a smile on her face. I think of her selflessness, because that smile was for me. She never wanted me to see her in pain. That was my yiayia. That was us. We continued to find joy, and we laughed, and we reveled in the happiness often found in the small moments. We danced in the pouring rain of her disease.
This is my love letter to my yiayia, because it was a perfect, boundless love that she gave me, and it's a love I'll have for the rest of my life. Even from her medical bed, unable to walk, she was there for me, she never forgot me and no matter where my life leads me, how far from home I go, I’ll never forget it.
Dr. Oz says his mom with Alzheimer's is 'not getting better' .
In a short video shared on Friday, Oz said that his mother, who was diagnosed last year with Alzheimer's disease, was mentally "treading water" as the disease progresses.