Making Sense of Alzheimer’s is a creative space for people to understand the past, present and future of Alzheimer’s disease. It is an evolving forum, a gallery of ideas, a museum without walls.

The One I Know: Remembering Chopin

By Terrence Casey


In many ways, I consider myself lucky to have been young when my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Spared the heavy burden of understanding her prognosis, I was able to create memories as any child would of the woman we called “Jo,” a Scottish term of endearment.

Even in adulthood, I struggle to recall Jo’s cognitive decline, but I remember everything else about her vividly.

…like when the weather turned warm, and my siblings and I would bike down Pennlyn Blue Bell Pike to her house for a spaghetti dinner and a Tastykake dessert.

…like when we’d look out over the Avalon marina, sometimes in silence, listening to the ropes whip against the masts, other times planning the party we’d like to throw on “that yacht over there.”

…like when she told me that if I were a good person first, all else would fall into place.

When Jo could no longer tell us the family stories, my mother or grandfather would take over, allowing her to confirm minor details along the way. Even as she contributed less or confused names and places, the practice continued, allowing her 10 grandchildren to focus on who she was and not who she was becoming.

Jo died in 2006, and her final years were tremendously difficult on the family. But the struggles of those years live in the shadow of our lasting memories of our beautiful grandmother, mother and wife.

It was this gift that was the inspiration behind a new Making Sense of Alzheimer’s project we’re calling “The One I Know.” The first submission — “Remembering Chopin” — is my own. Even late in life, Jo recognized and responded to my playing Chopin on the piano (no matter how poorly I performed). To this day, I cannot sit on a piano bench without seeing her closed eyes and peaceful smile in the corner of the room.

We’re inviting you to share your favorite memories of an older adult with memory problems (not necessarily Alzheimer’s disease). We encourage participants to share photos, videos or audio recordings to help tell the story. If you’re interested in participating, contact me at or by calling 215-898-9979. New submissions will be added to the site monthly.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Not Alone

“Not Alone” was never meant to be made public when Gardner wrote it, but a powerful response from his mother encouraged Gardner to publish a formal music video to YouTube.

Portraits of Caregivers

Photographer Raymond W. Holman, Jr. captures the sometimes forgotten figures in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease dementia.

IOM Report on Cognitive Aging

The IOM Report on Cognitive Aging

Art of the Mind: Faye Hall Link
Art of the Mind

Faye Hall’s mother left notes for the trespassers stealing her food and moving her possessions, forgetting that these were her own actions. The artist used the notes as inspiration and as a medium in a portrait of her mother.

Beyond the Face of Alzheimer’s

“Beyond the Face of Alzheimer’s" - an intimate portrait of Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

I Am Life

Richard Rubin presents "I Am Life: Humanity In Advanced Dementia"


A daughter's honest graphic memoir of her mother's descent into dementia.

Building a Better Password

As people age, it can become even harder to remember the countless passwords used in daily life.

The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Dementia and Aging

Listen to Jason Karlawish's review of Margaret Lock's book "The Alzheimer Conundrum."

Millennials Take Action: Designing to Preserve Dignity for Persons with Dementia

Creative young adults design innovations aimed at improving quality of life of patients and caregivers.

Art of the Mind: Greg Dunn Link

Greg Dunn spent years studying the human brain, only to spend countless additional hours trying to depict it in his art. Yet the neuroscientist-turned-artist says he is humbled by how much more complex the brain is than he could ever hope to show.

The Beginning Stages of Goodbye

Artist Alexandria Levin reflects on a cross-country train trip she took to help her mother, who has dementia, move into the final stages of her life.

Still We Dance: Artist Charles M. Williams
Slideshow and Video

Charles M. Williams combines his art with “the possibility of the ‘long good-bye’ that is Alzheimer’s.”

Should We Still Read ‘Still Alice’?

Jason Karlawish,MD explains why 'Still Alice' is not the right story to help us understand Alzheimer’s disease.

Making Sense of Alzheimer’s … A Student’s Perspective

A college student asks questions about Alzheimer’s disease to try and understand the complexity of the disease.

Hilarity for Charity Joins Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Hilarity for Charity joins fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

Laughing with Dugald

Dramatists know the value of comic relief in the tragedy of life. Perhaps one man's own sense of humor is helping him to live with Alzheimer's.

History of Alzheimer’s Research

A walk through important dates in Alzheimer's disease research history.