Help us care for families facing Alzheimer's, educate young people about living a brain-healthy life, and activate the next generation of Alzheimer’s advocates.

Lauren Fagan

It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite moment with my grandma Jo, I have quite some hilarious stories I wish I could share (tequila shots in Cuba or her pulling me out of school to buy me my favorite spice girl doll). But I wanted to share the most recent time I saw her. I went to her Age Care home on Christmas to feed her some Homemade sweet potatoes. My grandma no longer can walk, talk, or move. She is immobile and in a wheelchair. On Christmas Day my sister and I sat there with her and watched a Royal Christmas special. I decided to stand up and start joking about politics, my stance must have got her attention and her face drew to me as if she knew I was there. I then grabbed her face and looked into her eyes, she was staring back at me, something I haven’t felt in almost five years. I said, “I love you grandma jo” she continued to look at me with the biggest smile. I kept kissing her cheeks, and then she said “this is nice” with a great big grin and clear as a whistle. I can’t explain how happy that moment still makes me, knowing my grandma is not gone. It’s been five years or more since I’ve been able to connect with her. I realize how hard it is for individuals to see their loved ones with dementia, thinking they aren’t there or they don’t know, but they do. They deserve love and compassion and I just hope that maybe this story will shed some light on the darkness that is dementia. I love my Grandma Jo so so much, she’s still here and I’m going to keep fighting for her.

It’s hard to write this without wanting to cry, but then for a moment I think about how amazing my Grandma Jo is, and all the amazing things she has accomplished in her life. She lost her husband at an early age and had to raise her six children on her own, working a full-time job, stressing about putting food on the table and a shelter over their heads. But I know my grandma Jo for being strong-willed who wouldn’t put up with bullshit from anyone, a woman who made up her own rules many times. This is a quality my family tells me my Grandma Jo and I share, set up your life by your own rules.