My grandmother

In Search of Lost Time

Waltraud Gennies
Waltraud Gennies
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    There are an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia, and 1.5 million in Germany.

  • Facts


    • Dementia is one of the main reasons people need nursing-care.
    • More than 70 percent of all people in need of care are nursed at home.
    • There is a shortage of 30,000 qualified care workers in Germany.
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Does she even know how hard she fought? Watching my grandmother lie listlessly in bed while the TV blares, it’s hard to know if she feels anything at all. She has been defeated by what she most feared; dementia has robbed her of her ability to eat and speak or even know who she is.

My grandmother Waltraud knew how cruel the disease was and how it could change people. She had cared for her mother but after my great-grandmother died, also having had dementia, Waltraud found a letter addressed to her that said, ‘God will punish you!’

She knew it was the disease talking, not her mother, though it bothered her after all they had been through.

I didn’t really know much about my grandmother’s life, but she wrote it all down in diaries and letters, documenting every harsh word and compliment. So, just as she was losing her mind, it was through her writing that I got to know her, learning of the happy days and darker times alike.

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