DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My grandpa was diagnosed with dementia five years ago while I was still in high school. When I came home on summer break this year I wasn’t sure if he recognized me at first when I went to visit him at his nursing home. His decline is breaking my heart and as much as I love my Gramps, I feel more and more that I should just skip the visits, especially if he doesn’t even know who I am. Does that make me a bad person? --- MISSING GRAMPS
DEAR MISSING: No, this doesn’t make you a bad person.
It’s not easy seeing someone you love disappear. But don’t assume that just because your grandpa doesn’t always recognize you that he has altogether forgotten who you are. No matter how far he slips away from the realities that surround him, you might still catch traces of the man you grew up loving, and for all you know, you may very well continue to be part of his new reality, just in a redefined way.
Hold tight to your memories of who he used to be, and when you visit do your best to roll with the role he assigns you on that particular day.