May 20, 2012

The Source of My Inspiration to Help Alzheimer’s Patients

At times, she really thought she was my sister, and scenes of sibling rivalry were played out. By the time I was 8 or 9, I was clearly her caregiver. No one assigned me this task, but I clearly felt a strong sense of responsibility toward her, and I became the protective one.

By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room

The Source of My Inspiration to Help Alzheimer’s Patients
I know I have written about Great Grams many times in the past.  Helping care for her as she lived with Alzheimer’s Disease shaped my life as a young child, and, now, as a college student.

I am an only child, and Great Grams was really more like a sibling to me.  When I was very young, she was one of my caregivers. It was like having an older, protective, sister.  As her disease progressed, she became a playmate.  At times, she really thought she was my sister, and scenes of sibling rivalry were played out.  By the time I was 8 or 9, I was clearly her caregiver.  No one assigned me this task, but I clearly felt a strong sense of responsibility toward her, and I became the protective one.


For the past two years, I have tried very hard to locate a video, shown on CBS Channel 2 in Chicago, in 2003.  My family had been invited to Chicago because I had won a national invention contest, and I was invited to an award ceremony at the Museum of Science and Industry.

My invention was the Great Granny Booster Step, a special step that I had built to help Great Grams get into our minivan.  While we were there, Channel 2 interviewed Great Grams about how she felt about my invention.  I have longed to watch that video once again, ever since I saw how wonderful it was to watch videos of Dotty.  I even wrote to Channel 2, but they were unable to locate the video for me.

Then, recently, as my grandparents were doing some spring cleaning, can you guess what appeared?  It was a copy of that interview.

The video is not great because it is actually a video of the TV show, taken by my dad back in the hotel room, when Channel 2 news was broadcast.  I am providing a link to this video below, so I can share Great Grams with all of the Alzheimer’s Reading Room. 

Just in case it’s hard to make out Great Grams’ words, here is what she says in her three comments:

“I can’t tell it to you in words, but he’s everything to me.”
“If I can’t go, he don’t want to go.”
“It makes me a lot happier.  I can be with him more.”





I uploaded this video to YouTube, so I can share Great Grams and  remember forever.

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