May 16, 2011

Great Grams Could Rise to the Challenge

Great Grams rose to the challenge. She even appeared on TV in Chicago, demonstrating how she used the step I made to get into and out of a minivan! She told the media that I was a wonderful boy that made the step because I wanted to take her everywhere with me. She was a star...
By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Today I was cleaning up my room, and I came upon some photos old photos. The first was from 1997, when Great Grams always took pride in helping take care of me.


Here’s another from 1998, Great Grams was always watching over me.

Next are the photos from 2003. They are from our trip to Chicago when I won my first invention contest . I had invented a special step, with a handle attached, to help Great Grams get into our family minivan. When I heard about the invention contest, I sent in my idea, and it won first place in the nation!

Sears Craftsman, one of the sponsors of the invention contest, invited my family to go to Chicago for the weekend. We decided to drive there. We all went, including Great Grams, who was probably around 90 years old at the time.

Here’s a photo of me being interviewed by Bob Vila. You can see the poster behind me of Great Grams using my step invention.

We also all went on a tour of Chicago. Here’s a photo of me sitting with my teacher, who was also invited on the trip. A few minutes after this photo, I fell asleep on my teacher’s lap.

We were all very happy. We certainly did not realize at the time that Great Grams had Alzheimer’s disease. However, we did realize that she was starting to have some problems and she needed lots of attention and watching. We thought it was just because she was 90.

At the event, which took place at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, there were many reporters. They were all very intrigued with Great Grams. Many of them wanted to interview her. I remember that my parents and grandparents were worried about Great Grams being able to handle being interviewed.

But, Great Grams rose to the challenge. She even appeared on TV in Chicago, demonstrating how she used the step I made to get into and out of a minivan! She told the media that I was a wonderful boy that made the step because I wanted to take her everywhere with me. She was a star!

I wish I still had the TV footage, but it’s been lost long ago. However, I did find this photo of Great Grams being interviewed by newspaper reporters outside the museum. She was so proud!

It was a nice memory, so I wanted to share it with my friends at the ARR. It was probably one of the last trips my family made that didn’t end up with a meltdown upon our return home. It was about a year before she was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

More articles about Max and Great Grams:

I Remember Better When I Paint: Treating Alzheimer's through the Creative Arts
"I Remember Better When I Paint"


Max Wallack is a student at Boston University Academy. His great grandmother, Gertrude, suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Max is the founder of PUZZLES TO REMEMBER. PTR is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and veterans institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

Original content Max Wallack, the Alzheimer's Reading Room