Alzheimer's Disease is a heartbreaking, progressive disease that destroys memory function. Our Lindsey Jones shares her personal story about her grandmother, who had Alzheimer's.
“Who are you?” I remember the day those 3 words changed my life. I held back the tears, smiled, and held my grandma’s hand as I answered, “I’m your granddaughter, Lindsey.”
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandma. I was one of the lucky kids who never had to go to a babysitter or daycare since my grandma could keep me while my parents worked. As I got older, there were still weeks in the summer that I preferred to hang out with my grandma, instead of attending a camp or an activity.
Spending summers with my grandma resulted in my love of tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches, soap operas, and Bob Barker (we never missed an episode of the Price is Right). I try to remember my grandma as the caring individual she was, the woman who loved her family, who made the absolute best potato salad, and who thought the world of all her grandchildren and believed we could accomplish anything.
Leading up to her diagnosis, my grandma changed.
First, it was just her forgetting simple things, like how to write a check. My family and I always attributed these little memory losses to age, until she was hospitalized from a fall and the brain scan showed evidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Once diagnosed, her Alzheimer’s progressed quickly, and she had to be placed in an Alzheimer’s care unit. During her time in this facility, my mom and I would visit almost daily. It felt like each day my grandma’s face lit up a little less when we would come to visit. Occasionally though, we’d see a spark of who she really was, and her face would light up, she’d smile ear-to-ear, and call our names out when she saw us walking down the hallway. It always gave me hope that my grandma was still there, but as time progressed, those little sparks became less frequent, and ultimately stopped.
As my grandmother’s disease worsened, she became more anxious, fearful, angry, and thin. She lost trust in everyone and would become violent. Before she passed, my grandma barely spoke, could not feed herself, and did not recognize herself or her family.
When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I learned you’ll lose them twice. I lost my grandma the day she believed I was stranger, and again on February 12, 2014 when she passed away.
Because I’ve seen how Alzheimer’s disease can affect a loved one and a family, I’m passionate about clinical research and participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Hopefully, very soon, through research and fundraising, we will have a cure for this awful disease because I never want another family to lose a loved one how I lost my grandma.
Alzheimer’s disease is relentless. So are we. Join our team for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.