Grandma (Popo) was one of my favourite “big people” when I was little. She cared for me and brought me up until I was ready to start school. We shared a very close bond that I can feel even now.
Things changed for us when I started hanging out more with my sister and tagging along with my parents. It makes me sad to remember Popo saying “Shan is a big girl now and doesn’t want Popo anymore”. I didn’t take that to heart as a young child, but now I’d hate to think that she may have lost some of her sense of purpose because of that.
By the time I started school, Popo was rotating between the families of her three children, so I didn’t get to see her as often.
I was always happy when it was our turn to have Popo staying with us. But I started to notice that she was changing. She used to like me giving her a back and shoulder massage using her favourite massage tool.
But she eventually stopped asking and she started sleeping more and more.
I remember my parents being so kind and so patient with Popo. They were wise in realising that we had to adjust to the changes in Popo and give her the support she needed.
When Popo started hallucinating, I could hear mum reassuring her.
I was a lucky kid with a full time mum who cooked and delivered a hot meal for me at school. I remember when this got much harder for mum whenever Popo was staying with us. Often times I would be sitting there waiting for mum to bring lunch. Mum would race in with minutes of my lunch break left with sweat dripping off her forehead and exhaustion written all over her face. I knew it was due to her needing to take extra care of Popo when Popo eventually totally lost continence.
Popo passed when I was 9. I remembered my sister coming to pick me up from school one hot afternoon to break the news to me. I couldn’t stop crying. On that afternoon, I lost the only grandparent I ever knew.
Over 30 years ago when Popo started to decline, there wasn’t much information on Dementia. As a young child, I remember being told that this is part of getting old! I couldn’t accept that getting old meant losing yourself in the way that I saw Popo lose herself.
I don’t know if I have the mutated gene or not. But one thing I know is that there are things that I can do to reduce my risk. I am on a mission to help create much more awareness about dementia and what can be done to slow the rising tide of the devastation.
I’m writing a book to help people demystify dementia, understand the risks and the ways to support and interact with people living with dementia. I intend to donate 1,000 books to families caring for loved ones living with the disease.
To make it possible for me to publish and donate the book, I’ve launched a crowd funding campaign. Here is the link to the campaign https://igg.me/at/crowdfund-shannon- book/x/21926096#/