Apr 3, 2010

Why I Slept in a Sleeping Bag, While My Room and Bed were Around the Corner

It was where I needed to be......
By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room

We already knew that Great Grams had Alzheimer's disease. It had been about 2 years since she was diagnosed, but she probably had Alzheimer's for several years before the diagnosis.

My grandparents had lived with Great Grams in Maine, but Grandma was having more and more trouble caring for Great Grams all day while Grandpa was at work. Grandpa had planned to retire in a few years and move nearer to us in Massachusetts.

As the Alzheimer's developed, Great Grams and Grandma spent longer and longer with us in Massachusetts. We would all help her with Great Grams.

When the opportunity came up, Grandma and Grandpa decided to buy a house near ours. By that time, Grandpa was commuting to his job in Maine. He would leave on Monday mornings and return on Thursdays.

Finally, Grandma and Grandpa’s house was ready. They moved in over a weekend in April. On Monday morning, Grandpa left for Maine. Grandma thought she could take care of Great Grams herself during the night.

It was a stormy night, very windy. About one hour after we left Grandma’s to go home, around 10 PM, there was a power failure.

Great Grams was upstairs. Grandma was downstairs and very unfamiliar with the house. It was pitch black. Great Grams was frightened.

Great Grams started screaming. Grandma didn’t have a flashlight, and she couldn’t even find the stairway to go upstairs.

Great Grams screamed that she was going to jump out the window.

At my house, being in the same neighborhood, we realized the power was out. We called Grandma’s cell phone. When the phone rang, it lit up, and Grandma was able to find it.

Grandma said she needed help.

My dad ran out through the back yards, in the storm, with a flashlight. He went upstairs and brought Great Grams down safely. Then, the lights went back on.

My mom and I also went over to Grandma’s. We stayed for the night--the first night of many nights.

In the morning, we noticed the screen in Great Gram’s room had been pushed out. She was serious! She would have jumped!

And that’s how I ended up sleeping in a sleeping bag, just around the corner from my house.

It was where I needed to be.
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 , a 501(c.)3 charitable organization. PUZZLES TO REMEMBER is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and other institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

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Original content Max Wallack, the Alzheimer's Reading Room