‘When I saw the look in my mother’s and grandmother’s eyes, I knew’: Woman quits her full-time job to care for 83-year-old grandma with Alzheimer’s

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“I recently married the man who supported me through my decision to quit my full-time job to care for my 83-year-old grandmother during her middle stages of Alzheimer’s and our 1-year-old son.

In December 2017, my mother and I went to visit my grandma in the nursing home after having her fifth fall. My grandma looked up at my mother and myself asking if it was time for her to go back to her home yet. I remember my mother grabbing her hand with tears in her eyes, saying, ‘Not yet, Mother.’ My mom, who cares for her own brother 24/7, knew she was unable to also take on the task of caring for my grandma. She could hardly bear the thought of my grandma living the rest of her life in a nursing home.

grandmother holds shirtless grandson in her arms as they sit on black leather couch
Kristin Anderson

I had just had my son, Trace, in August, and had already been debating back and forth about staying home with him. When I saw the look in my mother’s and grandmother’s eyes, I knew I wanted to do something. I remember looking up in the sky numerous nights in a row asking God to lead me in the right direction. I knew quitting my full-time job would put some stress financially on my growing family, but at the same time would be such a blessing that would be worth all the money in the world just to have my grandma back home. I spent the next two weeks putting it all to God and finally made the final decision to bring my grandma back to her home, with the ‘OK’ from her husband and doctor.

granddaughter of woman with alzheimers takes selfie in car
Kristin Anderson

Now one year later, my grandma and I have made a lot of memories from our shopping trips, hair salons, and going on drives while she reminisces on old memories.

elderly woman with alzheimers is sitting at a table in her house smiling
Kristin Anderson

Some days we have struggles as my grandma continues to grip more onto the past than to the present day. When I get there in the mornings, she calls out for her own ‘mama.’ We get through this by talking about the memories she’s shared with her mama, asking her about the good ole’ days, and where she’d like to go next for a shopping day to help distract her mind.

granddaughter takes smiling selfie in car with grandmother who had alzheimers
Kristin Anderson

I went to college and graduated with my associate degree in human services because I always had a passion for caring for others and making a difference. After graduating, I got a job in a care facility for mental health clients. I loved my job, but life was calling me in a different direction. I had no more knowledge than the next person when it came to Alzheimer’s, but I have a whole lot of love for my grandmother, so I knew with all my love and research, I could make her wish possible and bring her back home to her husband where I could then care for her during the day.

granddaughter wearing sunglasses smiles as she takes selfie with smiling grandmother with alzheimers
Kristin Anderson

Throughout all of this, my grandma has taught me so much more than I could have ever learned from a textbook. Family is forever, your mama will always be your mama, and when life gets tough, never stop praying. There has been nothing more fulfilling than being able to spend this precious time with her. Although her memory may come in and out as the days pass, her love never fades away.

My grandma sometimes calls me an angel, but she’s the real angel in my eyes.”

grandmother with alzheimers wears a purple ribbon with bow draped on her head sitting next to granddaughter smiling
Kristin Anderson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kristin Anderson, 28, of Melcher-Dallas, Iowa. Submit your story here.

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