Soon enough, I started high school and didn't see Nana as much since I quickly became very busy. However, my entire family did start to notice a change in her behavior and overall demeanor. She started seeing doctors and in 2016, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. I had always known what Alzheimer's was, but never understood how much it truly affects a person's life, and the lives of those around them. My family worked together to care for her, for the next few years. We had a few mishaps along the way, like the fire department visiting our house after Nana flooded the bathroom causing water to leak through the ceilings and set off the alarm. But I really didn't mind the mishaps because at least I got to spend time with her. Seeing her walk around the house pointing at the firemen saying "he's a stud!" made the process a little more enjoyable. We loved caring for my Nana but eventually, it got to the point where we couldn't anymore. It sounds silly because, how hard could it be? But if you have ever cared for someone with Alzheimer's you know what I mean.
In August of 2019, Nana moved into a memory care unit at a nursing home. It was sad to see her go, but we all knew it was best for her. I liked to go visit her when I could. She couldn't walk anymore and couldn't move her arms or hands very well. She also got to the point where she couldn't talk. It's hard because these things are required to show people affection. I never realized how much a hug, saying "I love you", or even a simple hand shake or high five really impacts your connection with someone. Although Nana couldn't do these things, I know at least for a while she could recognize me when I saw her. She might not have known who I was or my name, but she knew that I mattered to her, and that's all that mattered to me.
I want to help people who are in this situation. Nobody should ever have to watch someone they love suffer from a disease like this. Sometimes, I imagine a world where my Nana never had Alzheimer's; a world where I could walk into her house at 4 o'clock and see her on the couch watching "Judge Judy"; a world where I ask her how her day was and she is able to something back; a world where she can still remember who I am, and ask me about my day, and give me advice; a world where Alzheimer's has a cure.
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
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