Jenny Bryner


To me, Alzheimer’s Dementia is like a parasite. A parasite that lives within a host. At first,
the symptoms aren’t noticeable. As time progresses, the effects it has on the human body
become more apparent as the body’s resources slowly deplete. This is exactly what dementia
is. It’s a lifelong disease that slowly eats away at one’s mind until there is nothing left.
My grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia around seven years ago. One of
the things we learned firsthand was that the most recent memories are always the first to go. My
Mom’s family are immigrants from Peru, and as such, my Grandpa’s first language was not
English but Spanish. He slowly forgot English and would resort to Spanish as his illness
progressed. Some of my cousins and I soon found ourselves at a disadvantage as we only
knew the basics of the language and had a hard time communicating with him.
But despite the language barrier, we still understood each other. We learned to
communicate through actions and most importantly, expressions. I still remember that, whenever
it was our turn to take care of my grandpa for the day, my mom always told us to keep smiling
even if we were in a bad mood. She explained to us that even though he couldn’t understand
the language, he could still interpret the meaning of what we were saying through our attitudes.
It feels wrong to say that if my grandpa did not have this disease, I would have never
gotten to know him the way I have today. In fact, I would not trade anything in the world for the
memories and lessons I learned from having his influence in my life almost daily. After he
passed away earlier this year, I have often found myself looking back to the times we spent
together. Because of the fact that we always kept an uplifted environment around him, the
memories I had of him always included smiles and laughter. Those became some of my most
precious and cherished memories I have.
Taking care of my grandpa with my family taught me many things, but the most important
one was being positive. This includes not just saying uplifting things but having an optimistic
attitude as well. In order to create more moments like the ones my family shared with my
grandpa, I have always aimed to be optimistic, because sometimes the most treasured
memories we have are not based on words, but on a cheerful moment.