Bay Area teen works to raise Alzheimer’s awareness

Despite her young age, 13-year-old Hannah Jao from the South Bay has been volunteering to raise Alzheimer’s awareness and funds for over seven years. Recently, she wrote a poem expressing the difficulties faced by those living with Alzheimer’s and encouraging others to show compassion.

Hannah with Peining and Edie Yau at Chinese Forum

Deep Down, Never Gone
By Hannah Jao

Life with Alzheimer’s is hard
No one will ever say
it is simple to live with Alzheimer’s
People can mock as much as they want
But they will never succeed in doing so
Be it, do it, you are only hurting yourself, the person deep inside you
Begging to come out and show the world who you really are
As you should know, “Living with Alzheimer’s is hard enough”
“They aren’t doing anything”, “Give them an extra burden” is what heartless people say
But deep inside them, they know what it feels like
Being mocked, being bullied and most of all, being ignored
So do what you can, care for those in need
Your actions, even if they are small, will be greatly appreciated
Let the person deep down inside you spring out, let them show you who you really are
Show the world what you are actually made of
Take action, get involved

We asked Hannah what inspired her to write the poem. “I wrote this poem because I want the world to see how difficult it can be for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease,” she shared. “But even though they are different from most people, they deserve to be treated respectfully because it can be very hard and frustrating to live with this disease.

Hannah, with friends and family, volunteering at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

“I have had experiences interacting with people living with Alzheimer’s from volunteering at the Alzheimer’s Association Chinese conferences and Walk to End Alzheimer’s events. I can tell that sometimes it is not easy for them to move around and talk to people like we do. So we should give them a chance, be patient with them and let them feel like one of us.”

Peining Chang, Hannah’s mother, has worked as a Community Outreach Manager with the Alzheimer’s Association since Hannah was a toddler. Peining recalls that from a very young age, Hannah has been vocal about how people could help those affected by Alzheimer’s.

Hannah with her potholder craft

Hannah has participated in the Silicon Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s for several years. She often uses her craft skills to make items for her Walk fundraiser. Hannah has sold her headbands, bracelets and potholders to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association. At 2014 Walk, Hannah participated in the opening ceremony, representing advocates for families impacted by Alzheimer’s and related disorders. 

Not only has Hannah participated in the Walk, but she has recruited her friends to volunteer as well. As last year’s Chinese Alzheimer’s Forum, Hannah used her bilingual skills to help out as a volunteer usher. She also helped to demonstrate some exercises for seniors during one of the presentations.

Here is one of Hannah’s early pieces on how she wants others to treat people who are living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

I want to help, by Hannah

“I hope that Hannah’s efforts continue to inspire more young people to take action,” shared Peining. “And we are grateful that she is blessed to grow up with all of her compassionate aunties and uncles at the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Would you like to join Hannah and help raise Alzheimer’s awareness? Learn more about becoming a volunteer and/or participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

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