Alzheimer’s, Nana and Me

Alzheimer’s, Nana and Me

Editors Note: Instead of writing about Alzheimer’s, I have selected a couple of families that are dealing with this disease or have dealt with it to tell their stories. I hope that you will learn something about the disease and perhaps some life lessons.I was 9 when I saw my mom and dad crying, and I thought my Nana must be sick. When I asked, no one would tell me anything. Then, one weekend, when Nana and I were going to watch movies all night and eat popcorn, I asked her if she was sick. She explained to me that her body was not sick, but her brain was. It was the first time I had ever heard the word Alzheimer’s. {{more}}I was so sad. I asked my Nana, “Will you forget me?” She cried and told me, “I don’t think God would ever let me forget someone as special as you are to me.” That made me feel better, but I was still upset. So, Nana said we should talk about the things that had made us happy in our life together.We talked about all the fun trips we had taken together: Six Flags Over Texas, Schlitterbahn water park, Great Wolf Lodge and Sea World We’ve traveled to seven states together!Then we practiced all the fairy tales she had told me through the years. And we sang all the lullabies she had sung to me as a baby. Nana wanted me to remember all the stories and songs for the grandchildren she might not know in her future. I promised that I would. And, I will.That summer, we found pictures from all our good times and put them in an album. I will have that to remember her by, too.If someone asked me for advice about how to deal with having a grandparent with Alzheimer’s, I would say this: Spend as much time with your grandparents as you can before the disease gets worse. You have to be strong, because it will never get better. You have to be prepared for that. Study the disease; know what is going to happen; and make memories while you can.My Nan and I continue to make memories.She started making speeches to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s and became a national spokesperson. I started going to speeches with her so I could help her out if she needed me. I even answered questions at her speeches.I also help out ever year at Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I sell the Walk bracelets at school and give the money to the Alzheimer’s Association in my Nana’s name.My grandmother’s family carries the gene for the disease, so that is why she works so hard. She wants to make sure her children and grandchildren don’t get the disease.I have made my Nana a promise: When she can no longer speak about the disease, I will speak for her. I consider myself one of the youngest Alzheimer’s advocates, and I will fight for her! She means so much to me.Will you join me in the fight against Alzheimer’s?