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Natick Teenager Wrote a Children’s Book About Alzheimer’s


A Boston teenager wrote a children’s book about Alzheimer’s diseaseGreat-Grandma

When Max Wallack was 6, his grand-grandmother Gertrude’s Alzheimer’s disease started to worsen.  It was hard for Max’s family-she was always trying to escape and sometimes became paranoid.

 “When I was a young child,” Max remembers, “my great grandmother was my best friend.  As she struggled with the disease, only sometimes was Great-Grams an ‘adult.’  During those times she advised me, protected me, and expressed concern for me.  But other times, I was the adult--watching her as we crossed the street, even ‘bubbe-sitting’ for her when my parents went out.  I grew up embracing these responsibilities.  As Great-Grams became more childlike, I became the caregiver.”

Max was 10 when his great-grandma passed away.  After this painful experience he decided to do whatever he could to help people with Alzheimer’s disease.  He spent a lot of time thinking and reading about it- “It was becoming clearer and clearer to me that I wanted to spend my life helping Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.”

Book

For the past several years Max has been writing for one of the best Alzheimer’s blogs sites available.  He has been asked many times, “What is the best way to explain Alzheimer’s disease to young children?”  That’s how he got the idea for his book,“Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator?:  An Explanation of Alzheimer’s Disease for children.”  He asked his former high school English teacher to be his co-author, and recently published the book.

Maxs book resized 600

The book is based on Max’s own experience with his grand-grandma and his readings and research.  Some things are written from the perspective of a 6 year-old girl whose grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease.  She is a daughter of Max’s friend whom he met while writing.

Max’s book has received positive reviews, including from the department of geriatric psychiatry at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, as well as many excellent reviews on Amazon.com.

Puzzles to Remember

Max noticed that Alzheimer’s patients who work on jigsaw puzzles are calmer and less agitated than other patients.  After his great-grandma’s death, he decided to collect used puzzles and donate them to the hospitals and nursing homes.  He also contacted various puzzle manufacturers and asked for donations; they were happy to help.

Puzzles for Alzheimer's patients

Courtesy of Puzzlestoremember.org

In 2008 Max founded the non-profit organization, “Puzzles to Remember".  He is not only helping to ship puzzle donations to the nursing facilities, but also is helping manufacturers create special puzzles with fewer, larger, and brighter pieces, with memory-provoking themes for Alzheimer’s patients.

“I have since distributed over 15,500 puzzles to over 2,100 nursing facilities, adult daycare centers, veterans’ facilities, and memory cafés around the world,” he says.

Now Max Wallack is a 17 year-old Boston University student and research Intern in the Molecular Psychiatry and Aging Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine.  He hopes to attend medical school and become a geriatric psychiatrist.

We at Ezra Home Care were amazed by Max’s accomplishments, and wish him all the best in his endeavors.

 

Photo courtesy of Max Wallack.

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