Picking Up the Puzzle Pieces: My Alzheimer's Community

My journey with Alzheimer’s has been going on for all of my adult life, spanning more than 15 years. While it’s often sad, sometimes I can pull myself away from that sadness and zoom out a bit to see a few rays of sunshine pop out from behind the cloud.

New activities & hobbies

When my Poppop was well, he would keep to himself a lot, although I always remember him being obsessed with everything me, my sister, and my cousins were doing, be it cheerleading or football or a new interest. One of the things I loved sharing with him when he was well: Woodworking. He would let me sand things, taught me how to carve letters out of a plank of wood, and let me choose stains for the projects he was working on.

When he and my grandmother decamped to the mountains and his disease progressed, it was putting together puzzles that he found joy in sharing with me. He chose beautiful puzzles that resulted in beautiful landscapes. After we finished a new puzzle, he would paint it with wood glue to hold it together and had it framed so that we could hang it. It’s possible I may never have gotten those puzzle moments or creations with my Poppop without Alzheimer’s.

Walk-by visits

At a certain point, my Grandma became lonely and my Grandpop’s care was a little too much for her to handle on her own, so they returned to the area in which their children and grandchildren live.

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In order to do so, they moved into an apartment that I worked at as a lifeguard. I thoroughly enjoyed the days when my Poppop would walk on by the pool deck to give me a "hello" or even bring me dinner. Again, these memories are something that I might not have had without Alzheimer’s.

Growing relationships

As the disease progressed, my grandparents moved in with and close to other family members. This proximity, within walking distance or even in the same house as some Gram and Pop, gave my cousins the opportunity to get to know our grandparents at a different stage in life and create memories with them. They might not have gotten the opportunity to have made these memories without Alzheimer’s.

Beautiful community

I personally have met and made friends with amazing people whose personal connections to Alzheimer’s make them staunch advocates in this fight.

The Philadelphia Walk to End Alzheimer’s planning committee, year after year, feels more like a group of friends than a volunteer body, as we share each other’s victories and offer support to each other’s struggles.

The beautiful sentiments expressed throughout these posts on AlzheimersDisease.net and its Facebook and Instagram pages are touchingly heartfelt and painfully commiserating, above all reminding us that we are not alone with this disease. Without Alzheimer’s, I might not have known or had the opportunity to interact with any of the people mentioned here.

It’s a pretty dark cloud that Alzheimer’s casts over our lives. Sometimes it’s nice to bask in the rays.

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