Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: The Impact of Losing Somebody You Love To A Mental Disease

November became Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in 1983 under the authority of president Ronald Reagan, and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, only 2 million suffered from this disease in America at that time.

Today, nearly 5.5 million American citizens have Alzheimer’s and this number is steadily increasing. While we are able to see the horrible impact this illness has on those it directly affects, we sometimes forget to sympathize with the perspective of those who are watching it happen to their loved one(s) and who can do nothing about it.

Freshman finance major Anna Dziki has experienced this process with a person very near and dear to her.

Q: Who has been impacted by Alzheimer’s/Dementia in your family and when did it occur?

A: My grandfather, we call him “Morfar,” which means "mother’s father" in Swedish. He has had these health problems for a while, but a few years ago they really started to intensify.

Q: How would you describe your relationship with him to have been before the illness took effect and then during?

A: My grandparents live in Canada, but even though I don’t see my grandfather often, he has still been an important figure in my life. He was always an extremely intelligent man with really sharp observations or thoughtful comments.

Q: What has been the hardest part for you personally within this endeavor?

A: Over time it has become increasingly difficult for him to communicate. It is impossible for me to talk with him now since he mainly speaks Swedish, but even my mother and grandmother can’t really understand what he says a majority of the time. Before the dementia, he was also becoming frustrated because he was physically unable to move or take care of himself. This was hard for him because he was always independent and stubborn.

Q: How has this impacted other members of your family?

A: All of this has been a struggle for my mother, grandmother, and my uncles because they are not really sure what to do with him. My mom worries from afar and my grandmother is exhausted from trying to control him and keep him from wandering away. It is awful to watch my mom suffer from the worry.

Q: What is one thing you will always fondly remember about your grandfather?

A: I will always remember my grandfather’s one liners, goofy comments and sly little smile. I will also always remember the love for fiction novels we shared. I remember one of his birthdays, the entire family got together and he conducted us singing to him. Until his dementia, he truly had a young brain despite being on this planet for 80+ years.

As of recent years, we are actively seeking a cure for Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit www.alz.org