When Is the Right Time to Get My Grandpa Checked?
I love my grandpa. He was my favorite relative growing up. Seriously. I loved hanging out with him more than my parents, which always upset them a bit, but I was a kid so I didn’t care. I just wanted to be with Grandpa.
He’s left a huge imprint on me. To this day, I like to play checkers and do puzzles. I have tons of old man habits that came with all those afternoons hanging out with him. I like to eat prunes, for instance. I think they’re delicious. I will straight up eat a whole carton in an afternoon watching…what else?…Matlock or old Andy Griffith Show reruns.
My grandpa was always proud to be a stereotypical grandfather, and those characteristics have rubbed off on me.
I preface this post with all those details because I want to show how difficult the present moment is for me. My grandpa is now 91. He’s been healthy and happy and fully aware basically his whole life. He had a small heart attack (if any can be small) a few years ago, but he’s recovered, and he remains strong and fit. He still likes to go out for walks. He can still take care of himself.
…Or he could. That’s suddenly changing now. I’ve noticed recently when I go to visit him (he’s in an assisted living center, where he’s got a private apartment) that he’s not quite all there. I don’t know if the nurses notice or not since they don’t know him like I do. To me, he’s definitely losing something.
For instance, he mixes up names. He also mixes up events, combining things that happened decades apart. When his stories (and he was always a great storyteller) get so twisted he can’t keep them straight, he often abruptly breaks off and just moves on to a completely different topic.
I think others aren’t noticing as much for a few reasons. One, with assisted living, a lot of his basic needs get covered, which means his forgetfulness and confusion are easier to ignore. Two, others don’t visit him as often as I do. And three, he’s rarely as outspoken with anyone else.
My worry is that Grandpa is soon going to need more help because his mind is deteriorating. That would mean a lot of things need to get done. We need to find out if he has the mental capacity to double check his will and decide if he’s happy with it. We also need to see if he needs to move into a nursing home where he gets more full-time care.
But, the thing is, I don’t know how to bring this up to him, to break it to him that I’m worried his mind is going. I’ve talked to my parents, but they’ve pushed the responsibility off on me (maybe as revenge for preferring him as a child, I don’t know). They said I’m closest to him so I should be the one to do it.
But what do I say? How do I know it’s the right moment? I’m just not sure what to do. I’m just afraid of losing my grandpa.