By definition, Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. The cerebral cortex, which is responsible for language and information processing, shrivels up and damages areas involved in thinking, planning, and remembering. The hippocampus, critical to the formation of new memories, also shrinks severely.

On the left is a normal, healthy brain and next to it on the right, is a brain severely affected by Alzheimer’s.
On the left is a picture of my grandpa taken from our trip to Disney in 2000, where he is found wearing a hat that matches his personality. On the right is a picture from the same year, but pictured is my grandparents, along with me in the middle surrounded by three of my cousins.
Pictured here is my grandma and grandpa on vacation many years ago. This year, they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.

My grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a little over a year ago. Two weeks ago he went to the doctor to take a memory test, which would be compared to his results of the same test he took shortly after being diagnosed. A year ago he could answer 23 out of the 30 questions and this year he was only able to answer 13.

On the left is a picture of my grandpa at our family reunion in 2001. On the right is a photo from this past year’s family reunion.

Although I grew up around 600 miles away from my grandpa, we have a very close relationship. I spend almost all of my weekends with him and while we never go a day without having some sort of fun and laughing, it’s still a struggle to see him slowly slip away.

My grandpa, as well as a few other family members, drove 10 hours to watch me graduate from high school in May of 2016. This is one of the many photos taken that night after the celebration.

Although my grandpa is considered to be in the early stages, simple day-to-day life becomes more difficult as the disease progresses. During my visits, my grandpa has told me that he has to go to the bathroom and then he’ll end up in the kitchen, completely forgetting what he had gotten up to do. Some nights he forgets where his bedroom is. Even though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease yet, my family still hopes that one day there will be as scientists are now applying their basic understanding of the disease and the way the immune system functions, counting on their recent experiments to one day turn into a cure.

On the left is a picture of my grandpa’s visit to the Purdue campus just a couple of weeks ago. He is a huge IU fan and thought it would be funny to parade around, wearing it backwards. In the middle is a photo taken at his favorite place to eat. He eats at McDonalds for lunch or dinner almost every single day and is taken there every Saturday for breakfast, which sometimes means he’ll eat it twice in one day. On the right is a picture taken by my cousin, Kyle, while running errands. He doesn’t need a wheelchair, he’s just doing it for fun.

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