Mar 31, 2013

Alzheimer's Claims Yet Another Brilliant Mind

I told myself her confusion was the result of some medication for back pain. I did not want to admit that one of the kindest, smartest people I had ever met might be slipping away.


By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's disease
Yet another person I really care about has become affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Although not a blood relative, this person has had a profound influence on my life since I was four years old.

I have considered her my primarily role model. She was the one that taught me that each person has gifts that can benefit society, and with those gifts comes an obligation to make this world a better place.

We only had the opportunity to spend time together about a half dozen times over the past decade, but we have maintained close contact through email. She is someone whose advice I knew I could always rely on.

The last time we were together, I knew something was not right. But, even though I have had so much experience with Alzheimer’s disease, I was in denial about what I saw.

I told myself her confusion was the result of some medication for back pain. I did not want to admit that one of the kindest, smartest people I had ever met might be slipping away. After all, she was still her cheerful, positive, loving self. We talked about her pets, and she smiled and told me about her beloved dogs, two Great Danes.

She was very aware that I am devoting my life to confronting Alzheimer’s disease on every level. I knew that her dad had passed away from the disease. I told her that everything I accomplish in my life is really her accomplishment because she made me understand, when I was still very young, that it is my responsibility to pursue my passion and help others.

I remember our departing hug the last time we were together, about eight months ago.

I was glad we had some time together, but I had a sinking feeling that it was our goodbye. Just this weekend, I learned that she has progressed to Stage 6 of Alzheimer’s disease.

 It hurts. Alzheimer’s steals yet another brilliant and kind mind.

I will fight you, Alzheimer’s disease.

I will keep working to make a difference in the silently growing underwater tsunami that is about to rise up and engulf our society.

Max Wallack
Max Wallack is a student at Boston University and a Research Intern in the Molecular Psychiatry and Aging Laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine.  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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