Georgia has a remarkable bond with her two grandmothers, Bet and Janet, who both have dementia. But while coronavirus and dementia add extra challenges to their lives, their family remains strong, filled with love and laughter.
My Grandma Bet (left), who is my mum’s mum, and my Grandma Janet (right), who is my dad’s mum, both have dementia. They first met each other when my parents met in 1986.
Grandma Bet has had dementia for as long as I can remember. She has vascular dementia and more recently has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. My Grandma Janet has had Alzheimer’s disease for a few years now and lives in a care home.
They are both the heart and soul of our family.
But, both of my Grandmas face challenges every day because of dementia. They both struggle with their memory.
My Grandma Bet is good at remembering things from years ago, such as where she used to work and my Grandad, but not so much on a day-to-day basis. She knows who we are; it just takes her longer to remember who is who sometimes. She needs help with daily activities and can’t live alone now, which is why she lives with my lovely Auntie Tracey and cousin, Owen.
My Grandma Janet, who lives in a care home, struggles a lot more with remembering who we all are. She still tells us she loves us, but I don’t think she’s so sure who we are. Her funny sense of humour still creeps in sometimes. Even though she doesn’t always make sense, she is still so funny.
Growing up nearby and keeping close
My sister, Beckie, and I grew up with our Grandmas by our side almost every day.
Throughout my childhood, both of our Grandmas lived within two minutes walking distance - perhaps less - from each other. My sister and I would hang out with them both all the time, along with our cousins, Owen and Connor.
They have been our best friends.
We would always go to Grandma Bet's on a Friday evening after school and call Grandma Janet over. We'd let her know we had finished the shopping and that we'd just got back if she wanted to come over for a takeaway. The two of them would have a sherry or two whilst we watched the soaps.
They would often spend half the night walking each other backwards and forwards between their homes because they didn’t want the other to walk alone.
It was nice to know they were so close together. They always had the other to check in on them or keep them company.
It seemed so simple then, but when I look back on it now, I know how lucky I was to have that. It’s honestly one of the best memories I have and I would love to do it even just one more time.
My Grandma Janet has the best sense of humour with quite a sarcastic tone - she always made us laugh. She would come to our house every morning with snacks for us in the holidays after she had been to all her other children’s houses and had done the same.
Every year at Christmas, my sister, my cousin Connor and I would go to Grandma Janet's for a party. She would make up games for us, we'd win silly prizes and we would always put on a Christmas show.
It has been super tough for me and my sister to see the two women we love with our whole hearts go through such a horrible thing.
The best times are when we can see their characters shine through and their uniqueness comes out.
Staying in touch during coronavirus
As you can see from the pictures, my Grandmas are both really close. But they haven’t been able to see each other for a while now.
It has been hard for the family as we too haven’t seen them much this last year, because of coronavirus.
Now the restrictions are easing, I have seen them both in the last few weeks, which was the first time in such a long time.
We have only just been able to see Grandma Janet, who lives in a care home. She comes out for visits once a week now.
It’s lovely but overwhelming to see her because of how much she has changed over the last year.
The care home staff are lovely and have so many fun activities with their residents. The home is always very transparent with telling us what’s going on.
It’s sometimes hard thinking about Grandma Janet in a care home, but it is the best place for her as her Alzheimer’s is quite advanced. My family does whatever they can, especially my Auntie Karen. I think it would be too much for us to look after her ourselves, so we are really thankful for the care home.
We were able to do some FaceTime calls at the beginning of the pandemic. When the care home started to allow one named visitor, my Auntie Karen would go and update us on how Grandma Janet was. I do think we were all a bit frightened to see her after so long.
My Auntie Tracey has been a saint caring for my Grandma Bet almost on her own throughout the lockdown!
Auntie Tracey's son and husband both work full-time. I know they help where they can.
Dementia has been tough on both sides of the family. But we have all stuck together for them, even when things have been really hard.