Jun 20, 2011

Great Grams and Crime

Would Great Grams have been legally responsible?

By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Great Grams, who suffered from Alzheimer's, was a meticulously honest person. She taught her family, including myself, to never, ever take something that didn’t belong to them.

Even if we went to an office where a dish of candies had been put out obviously for clients, we were taught not to take anything without asking. If we were in a large store and looked down and saw a quarter on the floor, we were taught that it belonged to the store.


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I started thinking about this after reading the comment by one reader on the ARR about an Alzheimer’s patient taking candy from the store. It brought back a rather difficult memory.

When my family was on our vacation in Hawaii, about six months before Great Gram’s death, we were all in a store at the Polynesian Village. My mom was looking at some perfumes made there. Suddenly, Great Grams said, “Just put them in your pocketbook. No one is looking!” It was a striking moment, so much so that I recall it five years later.

Would Great Grams have been legally responsible if she had taken the perfume? She clearly knew right from wrong, or she wouldn’t have realized it had to be done when “no one was looking”. Yet, for sure, her decisions were being made in Alzheimer’s World.

Would you report a crime that an Alzheimer’s patient told you about? What would you do if you discovered an Alzheimer’s patient stole something? If you are a caregiver, are you legally responsible if you have legal custody?

As an editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room, I want to invite each of you to submit a story to the ARR. Crime, funny, hair raising? Tell all of us about a story that sticks out in your mind.

We look forward to hearing from you.



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.


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Original content Max Wallack, the Alzheimer's Reading Room