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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Stricken family members deserve loving care

 •  Teens reflect on agony caused by Alzheimer's
 •  Woman we relied on disappeared
 •  Grandma's needs strengthens love

By Jaram Huh
St. Joseph High School, Grade 11

'Lest We Forget'

I had only heard a little of Alzheimer's disease before watching the PBS broadcast "The Forgetting."

As I viewed the program, I was moved to sitting on the edge of my seat. My brain was sucking in all the scientific research and data at the same time my heart was breaking as I watched those who had the disease as well as the caregivers struggle in dealing with their loved ones.

I began to remember my grandmother, who lived to be 74 years old. When she died last year, I was 16 and living in the United States. My family cared for her until she died last year. I think she may have had Alzheimer's disease.

Then I thought of my mom, now 45, and my father, who is 47. Would they be attacked by Alzheimer's?

I am 17 and have never thought about getting old. My concerns are: Will I remember the answers on my next geometry test? Where did I put my nail polish? Where did I put my homework assignments? Where is my soccer schedule?

These worries were quickly put into perspective after watching this program. My problems are nothing compared to those touched by Alzheimer's.

Lesson 1: Even though I am not affected by this disease, I am now aware that it exists. From the facts presented in this broadcast,

I could have this disease in my lifetime, or my parents or brother could also be Alzheimer's victims. Awareness is a good first step.

Teenagers need to be involved and concerned about the elderly of the world. Being from Korea, this is part of my culture. We celebrate our ancestors.

I have only been in the United States for 1 years but, from my view, the culture has been one of celebrating youth and the denial of the aging process. The focus seems to be on staying young. In the Korean culture, aging is respected, and the elders are honored in our society.

Lesson No. 2 for me is the sharing of my culture with my high school friends so that they can be aware of the sacredness that the elders have in our culture.

Lesson 3, which I have learned, is that money talks. Where the attention goes, the money flows.

I see the amount of money that has been invested in war. If those funds could be invested in attacking Alzheimer's disease, I believe, great gains could be made.

If a loved one in my family were a victim of Alzheimer's, I would be there for them as their caregiver. This may be the most difficult job I could ever have. The body of the loved one is there, but they slowly fade away before your eyes, until there only remains the body, but all else is gone. There are days when the loved one may respond and this seems to only give the caregiver false hope.

As a family, we need to take care of our elders as they so lovingly took care of us.

It is our turn, lest we forget.

There is an African saying that it takes a whole community to raise a child. After reviewing this program, I have modified this to say that it takes a whole community to care for those with Alzheimer's disease. This is not just our local family and community, but our whole family.

We need to take care of one another.