How to Help Grandma

For a list of “How to Help Grandma” blog entries, click here.


In January 2010, my 86-year-old grandmother was hospitalized after she complained of difficulty swallowing. The doctors never did find out what the problem was; instead, they came back with a much graver diagnosis – my grandmother had the onset of dementia.

I was devastated. Although I had moved close to my grandmother a few years prior for this very reason, once faced with the prospect of caring for a slowly deteriorating grandparent, I was terrified. As one of the only members of her family left, and the only one in the state, her care depended solely on me … and I had no idea where to start. My friends had parents to take care of their grandparent’s aging issues. My grandma’s doctor referred me to an Elder Hotline. The Elder Hotline referred me back to the doctor. Internet searches for dementia, elderly care and assisted living yielded only lawyer websites. As my grandmother’s condition worsened, I frantically searched for information on dementia, elderly care, assisted living and nursing homes. I spent lunch breaks calling numbers on brochures and government guides. I limped through the bureaucratic maze of Medicare and Medicaid.

Slowly, I began to put pieces of the elderly care puzzle together.

One night, while scouring the Internet – my brain buzzing and eyes watering – I had an idea: I would document my progress while offering some insight to others who may be caring for a grandparent suffering from the illnesses of age. My brain slightly fried from the stress, I could only come up with one title; “How to Help Grandma” seemed to fit.

Unfortunately, about five weeks later, my grandmother passed away.

In memory of her, I continue to post information useful for those caring for aging grandparents — from useful websites to the latest on legislation affecting some of our most vulnerable citizens – in the hope that someone else can “help Grandma.”