PuzzlesToRemember became a 501c3 organization, and I began shipping puzzles, free, to dementia facilities.Max Wallack is a student at Boston University. His great grandmother, Gertrude, suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Max is the founder of In 2008, PUZZLES TO REMEMBER. PTR is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and veterans institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients. Puzzles To Remember has already distributed 12,646 puzzles to over 1298 Alzheimer’s caregiving facilities in all 50 states, plus Canada, Mexico, England, and Colombia.
I soon realized that many of the puzzles that were being donated were not well-suited to the needs of Alzheimer’s patients. Most had juvenile themes, and even adults with Alzheimer’s are still adults, and they do not enjoy puzzles about Sponge Bob and Dora. Many puzzles had too many pieces or pieces to small to be handled by this population.
I decided to contact a puzzle manufacturer and plead my case for more appropriate puzzles, and, in 2010, were born. These puzzles have 12 or 36 large-sized, brightly colored pieces, with memory-provoking themes. They have been widely praised as beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients, and they are being used in many Memory Cafes.
I frequently receive photos of smiling faces, as Alzheimer’s patients encounter an often elusive feeling of success. Since 2008, I have distributed over 17,000 puzzles to Alzheimer’s facilities around the world.
From my own experiences, I know that, in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, it is not only the patient that is suffering; it is the whole family. The behavioral issues associated with this illness are not often focused upon, but they can be devastating.
Caregiving can be so stressful that about half of all Alzheimer’s caregivers pass away before their patient! For this reason, I have made the choice to become a Geriatric Psychiatrist, working with both dementia patients and their family members. In 2010, I became an editor for the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, providing information and online support for Alzheimer’s caregivers.
It is clear to me that I need to pursue a very vigorous academic schedule in order to pursue the legacy left to me by Great Grams.
Great Grams had a very high regard for education, and I share that sentiment. Today, at age 16, I am a college sophomore, majoring in Neuroscience. Simultaneously, I volunteer as a Research Intern, three to five days a week, at Boston University’s Molecular Psychiatry and Aging Laboratory, where I research various enzymes and their relationship to Amyloid Beta, a protein implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. For my work on behalf of Alzheimer’s patients, I was awarded, at age 15, complimentary membership in the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.
In this country, and in many places around the world, our population is aging, and Alzheimer’s disease is an impending disaster. My experiences as a caregiver to Great Grams have, for me, elucidated my lifelong path to tackle this disease on multiple fronts, encompassing compassionate care of those afflicted, support for weary caregivers, and research to find treatments and, perhaps, a cure.
This is my calling in life.
Original content Max Wallack, the Alzheimer's Reading Room