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My grandmother never forgot who I was.

I am the only male of her four grandchildren.

It's been more than a year since she's passed away but it seems like much longer.

She had osteoporosis, arthritis, fibromyalgia, a weak heart and several other chronic diseases but all those diseases couldn't take away what Alzheimer's did - her personality.

In the U.S., 5.3 million people are living with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association. My grandmother was added to that statistic.

Imagine if the Alzheimer's Association included all the lives affected by the disease?

I believe it's safe to say that number would be doubled, if not tripled.

The little things in life was what bugged me about my grandmother's bout with Alzheimer's.

The repetition of questions or statements and seeing her maturity go to the age of that of a child was the hardest part.

But still I was, Yoo-neh (my grandmother spoke only Spanish and instead of calling me J.R. or Junior, she gave me the pet name Yoo-neh.)

Everyday I remember my grandmother, but more specifically this month, because it is Alzheimer's Awareness month.

I will be writing a feature next week about what this disease can do to families and what the latest is in terms of research and medicine on a local and national level.

If you have any stories that you would like to share, please feel free to call me at 361-580-6504 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              361-580-6504      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, e-mail me at jrortega@vicad.com or respond to this blog.

I'd be more than interested to help share your story through my article or if you just feel like talking to someone, I'm here to listen.