Together we can end Alzheimer’s

100% of donations go directly
to the Alzheimer’s Association

Together we can end Alzheimer’s

100% of donations go directly
to the Alzheimer’s Association

Proud #ENDALZ Athlete

I’m proud to be an #ENDALZ Athlete along with other professional athletes and Olympic gold medalists. All of us have personally seen how devastating Alzheimer’s can be. My grandfather has late-stage Alzheimer’s, which has dramatically impacted my grandmother, me, and the rest of my family. Families facing Alzheimer’s and all other dementia need support, and we can be there for them. I would be honored if you help advance the fight against this disease. The Alzheimer’s Association provides necessary support while accelerating critical research. Please donate today so together, we can find a cure. Thank you!!

100% of donations go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association

My Story 

January 2022

Len Pierson hiking in the snow at Crater Lake.
Grandpa Pierson at Crater Lake in Southern Oregon. 2012

Alzheimer’s has greatly impacted my entire family, especially this year. My grandfather, Len Pierson, was diagnosed seven years ago, and the progression has been difficult to watch. He was an avid outdoorsman, fisherman, and woodworker, and he was most generous with his time. He enjoyed running, even running the Hood to Coast relay several times, and he prided himself on being prepared for anything. Need a flashlight, flare, pocketknife, raincoat? He could pull one out of nowhere within two seconds. Need to move, a car towed, a horse transported, or a birdhouse built? He’d help or make it in no time. He loved a good cup of coffee, a home cooked meal, and photographs of nature.

This past month, my grandmother, his wife of 60 years, could no longer continue the daily task of caring for him. He had fallen several times, was becoming combative, and he could not manage the simplest of tasks. Caregivers are saints. She was having to dress him, bathe him, feed him, and constantly clean up as he could no longer control his muscles very well. His daily frustration with not knowing how to put on a shirt, a pair of pants, a watch, or how to brush his teeth or even walk more than a shuffle, was too much. His mental loss was one thing, but at 83, my grandmother could no longer lift him, catch him when he fell, or control his frustrated outbursts. It was time.

 

Len Pierson hiking in the snow at Crater Lake.

Grandpa Pierson at Crater Lake in Southern Oregon. 2012

Josh Pierson with his grandparents at Pat’s Acres.

Grandma and Grandpa Pierson with me at Pat’s Acres Racing Complex in Canby, Oregon. September 21, 2019.

I helped move him into a memory care facility this past November. It took coordination from the entire family. My father took him to lunch at the facility, which was a task in itself as he cannot get in and out of a car without help, and had rarely ventured from his apartment in over a year. While he had lunch with my dad, I helped my mom and grandmother get his room ready. We then had my dad wheel him down to the room to meet us. We had no idea how he might respond. He was surprised to see us, but happy to see familiar things. He didn’t seem to realize this was a big change, as he just saw his things and assumed it was his room. A year prior, we helped my grandparents move out of their home of 50 years and into a senior apartment. Now, in late-stage Alzheimer’s, my grandfather doesn’t remember the past year of being in the apartment at all. Although he still remembers names, he’s more and more confused and living in a different time period, mainly revolving around his childhood years. He repeats questions over and over, tells the same story immediately after finishing it, and he is completely wheelchair bound at this point. 

Portrait of ENDALZ Athlete Josh Pierson.Despite all of this, my grandfather has retained his sense of humor. He is always laughing and doing his best to make others laugh with him, often at his own expense. He still has a spark when I visit, and he wants to talk racing, but I know he won’t remember me being there, or what we discussed. As memories get confused, he introduces many memory care residents as famous race car drivers. In his world, it turns out that his next-door neighbor is Carroll Shelby and half the residents are former 24 Hour of Le Mans winners! I am just grateful that he is still able to talk and that I can go visit and hold a conversation with him, even if he may repeat a story or two. I’m lucky that he is still excited to see me and can recognize me as his grandson. I’m grateful that he seems mostly happy.

My grandmother is exhausted from caring for him for so long. My parents now divide their time between her needs and visiting my grandfather, but still he gets worse. Every day is a challenge for him, and difficult for our family to watch his struggles and decline.

I hope a cure can be found soon, as more and more people are diagnosed with this terrible disease each day. The Alzheimer’s Association gives hope for families and those newly diagnosed that help is on the way. Let’s find a cure to combat this illness and mitigate the pain and frustration that impacts not only the patient, but also caregivers, families, and friends. Alzheimer’s Disease is far reaching. Let’s #ENDALZ!

Portrait of ENDALZ Athlete Josh Pierson.

Let’s #ENDALZ

100% of donations go directly
to the Alzheimer’s Association

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About Josh

Josh Pierson is a 16-year-old American racecar driver. He is currently racing LMP2 for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and United Autosports in the World Endurance Championship.