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World Alzheimer’s Month and National Grandparent’s Month

  
  
  

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and National Grandparent’s Month

 


While I was well aware that September is World Alzheimer’s Month and tomorrow is Alzheimer’s Action Day, until today I didn’t realize that it’s also National Grandparent’s Month.  I’m wondering if it was planned that way given that one in eight older Americans has Alzheimer’s and 70 million Americans are grandparents.  There’s a big overlap I’m sure.  My father, in fact, is one person who is in both groups.

Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease for everyone involved but, for grandkids, it’s really confusing.  It’s a disease that changes a fun-loving grandparent into someone who behaves strangely and may no longer recognize them.   Explaining it to kids isn’t easy.  Sure there can be some outward signs such as shuffling when they walk, but this is a disease of the brain, something they can’t see.

Safety Mom's Father

As an only child, I was committed to having my kids grow up around their grandparents.  The history and bonds that are forged can last a lifetime.  Over the past few years as my dad’s condition has worsened it’s been hard watching him slip away.  It’s difficult to know sometimes whether he recognizes me and the kids as he always has a smile for us when he sees us.   

This past summer was the first time he couldn’t go on our family vacation, having had a stroke just several weeks prior to the trip.  It was hard on my mom, who still joined us for a few days.  I can’t imagine what it’s like for her on a daily basis, watching the man she’s loved for 50 years slip away.

I will always be grateful for the time my kids have had with their grandpa – they are memories they will have forever.    And I will continue to explain as best I can to them that grandpa might not always recognize them but I’m convinced the love in his heart will shine through no matter what.

Tomorrow is Alzheimer’s Action Day.  Please wear purple to commemorate the day and learn more about what you can do to fight the stigma of this terrible disease that affects over 35 million people around the world. 

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