What follows is mainly for the benefit of Sara Westrop, a comic book writer I follow on the twitters (not surprisingly @sarawestrop) and will be of limited interest to anybody else. Sara recently took up the ancient and noble art of granny wrangling. It's something I've been doing for almost six months now. Hearing about her situation made me realise that there are two or three things that I wish someone had said to me when I started.
First off, keep a Granny Diary. Doesn't have to be a diary, a list will do. But make sure you keep a record of the good moments, the times when you have a laugh together or she tells you how much she appreciates what you're doing for her. I don't know the details of Sara's Gran, but mine has some kind of dementia, which means she is usually unable to remember anything. She'll have forgotten something I've told her before I've finished speaking. And she forgets her words, often using another random one instead. But then now and again she'll be utterly lucid and I'm never sure which is worse. When she's lucid you can see her frustration at what's happening to her. There has been tears and tantrums, anger and frustration, on both sides. A Granny Diary helps you through the bad days and reminds you there are good ones.
Second, get over any squeemishness you might have. When I started doing this, I felt extremely uncomfortable with the idea of washing and dressing her, and taking her to the toilet. Especially washing her, if I'm being honest. It took me a little while to realise that was my hang up, not hers. She just wants to feel clean, get dressed, go to the toilet and she needs my help to do it.
Finally, whatever you have to do, do it with love. If you've taken on the role of main carer, you've done it because you love that person. No matter what their physical or mental state, they'll feel the love you show them and that in itself is comforting to them. My Gran gets so angry and frustrated at some of the things she does and she doesn't know why she's done them and that makes her even more frustrated and all I can do is sit and hold her hand and tell her everything is okay.
So, that's what I wish someone had told me. There's probably more but I've almost finished my coffee and I should go and check that Gran is comfortable and doesn't need anything.