My name is Nicole Tuohey. Both my Grampa and Gramma Bradley suffered and died from Alzheimer’s Disease. Grampa Bradley was an Engineer at Harrison Radiator for 33 years and was the Mechanic for the Town of Newfane. He owned his own business call D.L. Bradley and Son. My Mom tells me that Grampa started forgetting things about age 52. My Gramma took care of him at home but my Mom would drive to Newfane almost every weekend and bring him back to our house to give Gramma a break. To keep him active and busy, she would have Grampa sort my Dad’s tube socks and fold the towels. Then when he wasn’t looking, she would unfold everything and have him do it again. He didn’t remember he had just done it. As the years went on though, he had trouble doing that. Grampa eventually had to where diapers. When Mom was 8 months pregnant with my brother Casey, Grampa punched her in the stomach. My Mom said he didn’t know what he was doing, but she knew it was time to move him to a nursing home, for his safety and Gramma’s. Mom said it was a sad day when Grampa moved out of his house of 30 years to the nursing home. Mom and Casey went to visit him frequently and 2 years later I joined them. Grampa never really knew me because by then the only thing he was able to do was sit in the chair all day crying and saying “what’s on the agenda”. He wore diapers and didn’t eat well by himself. Mom would cry once we got out into the car. Then one day, Mom went to visit Grampa. He got up out of the chair, took her hand and they walked down the hall. He was happy and seemed like a whole different man. She thinks that he might have actually known who she was. Three days later, Grampa died. 13 years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
A few years later, Gramma Bradley started forgetting things. She forgot to take her medication. She would get lost when driving. She forgot to shut the stove off with the teapot on it. She forgot her children and her grandchildren. She forgot how to knit, bake, read a book, do crafts, sew clothes, golf, but most of all she forgot how to take care of herself. Mom said she had to move away from her home of more than 50 years to a nursing home. Gramma was very confused and sometimes hit the nurses, so we bought her a doll that we named Andrew. She loved Andrew, she cuddled Andrew and sang to him. Something she used to do with me. Gramma suffered from Alzheimer’s for 14 years. In the end, she only spoke “gibberish” and wore diapers. My Mom went to visit her on a Thursday. They had the usual “gibberish” conversation. When Mom got ready to go, she kissed her and told her she would see her next week. Gramma looked right into her eyes and very distinctly said “No!”. Gramma died 5 days later at age 89. She is happy in heaven with Grampa.
I’m glad Gramma and Grampa are happy, but it worries me that maybe some day my Mom might get like them. I don’t want my Mom to forget me. My Mom takes care of me. I don’t want to change my Mom’s diapers. I need my Mom.
That is why once again my family and I will be participating in the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” in Lewiston on October 14th.
Again I will be selling my “Elephant Links” at Mom’s shop, Case-Nic Cookies, 439 Main St, Medina. For every $1 donated, I tape together “links” and stretch them down Main St in Medina the night before the walk. All of the money I raise is donated directly to Alzheimer’s to help with research and support for caretakers. Over the last 5 years I have raised over $5,000. To donate to my Links, stop at Case-Nic Cookies or go online to my page at http://act.alz.org/goto/nicoleslinks . I will continue to sell links until there is a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease……
The “Nic” in Case-Nic Cookies
Remember those who forget to remember…….