It all started with her cookies. My Nonna (grandma in Italian) made the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They were a staple of my childhood. One day, when I was a teenager, the cookies tasted different.
It was such a small thing, but I noticed, because they had always tasted the same. When I started working part-time after school, I couldn’t bake with her as often. And the cookies changed even more.
She started forgetting small details things, not remembering parts of her day, and getting lost on her daily walk. For a few years, we didn’t know what was going on, until a doctor’s appointment revealed that Nonna had dementia.
Since then, it has been a difficult journey. My family had struggled at the beginning and sometimes we still do. But thankfully the Alzheimer Society was there for us, providing support and services to help us better understand what my Nonna was going through and what we could do to help.
Watching my Nonna struggle with this disease has been so eye-opening for me. I’ve realized that she is not the same person she once was. She lives in a retirement home, but needs more care than they can provide and is now on the long wait-list for long-term care.
When I see the terrible effects of this disease—she can become angry and agitated and acts in other ways so unlike her—I can’t even believe that this is the same person with whom I used to watch soap operas, bake, and go on trips. Fortunately, I still have those memories. But it saddens me when I am reminded that she doesn’t.
Last year, my mom, who has been one of the biggest pillars of support for my Nonna, participated in the Walk for Memories, the Alzheimer Society’s most important fundraiser. This year I plan to join her. The Alzheimer Society has helped my family understand this disease and provided us with resources to help improve my Nonna’s quality of life. For that, I am truly grateful. I want to make sure others can receive the same kind of help I was so fortunate to.
So I’m walking, not only to say thank you, but also for the people and their families who struggle with the disease today and for those who will tomorrow. Though it may be a long shot, maybe one day a little girl will be able to bake cookies with her grandma well into old age and have them taste the exact same as they always had.
Walk for Memories Walker, Team Home Hardware