My name is Zack Smith, and I am an intern with the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California and Northern Nevada chapter. The Alzheimer’s Association and its mission have become very important to me over my three years of involvement with the cause. Having said that, I think I speak for all those facing Alzheimer’s disease in hoping for a day when the Association’s services will no longer be as necessary—a world without Alzheimer’s disease. As an advocate, and as a young person, I invite you to join me in making this vision a reality.
I would not be who I am today without my grandmother. Her diagnosis of younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease was the most devastating thing that ever happened to me, and is the reason for my continued involvement. She entered the late stages just as I was preparing to graduate high school. My grandmother was like a mother to me, and words cannot express how hopeless and hurt I felt watching her slowly lose her mind. Everything that could have gone wrong on my journey with Alzheimer’s disease did go wrong. Valuable family treasures were stolen from caregivers we trusted. Grandma’s own three children withdrew completely, and I blamed myself because I believed so much pain could have been prevented had I not maintained such a tremendous sense of denial toward Grandma’s condition. When I went away to college I felt I had to choose between my grandmother and my grades as more and more issues arose in my absence. My grandfather completely lost his health caring for the woman he loves. Eventually we had to place Grandma into a dementia care facility. It is hard for me to visit with her for more than thirty minutes to an hour; let alone walk into the locked dementia center. I find it rather painful to reminisce upon my childhood memories with Grandma because I know that seeing her now is nothing like the sense of joy one used to get being greeted by her former self. Family holidays are hard, especially when I set the table and remind myself that one extra place setting is no longer necessary. Continue reading “The voices of our generation are crucial in this fight” »