An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease.
The frustration of losing your memory and your independence can be overwhelming, but a Kahaluu man refuses to let his uncle’s memory fade without sharing his story.
Glenn Nishida and his uncle, Eddie Sakai, spend a lot of time together these days.
Sakai considers himself 84 years young: “Of course! I’m never old.”
Sakai moved in with Nishida and his wife last November after he suffered a devastating fall.
“(I fell) in the hallway, but I didn’t get up. I know I just laid down there until I could get up, so nothing was wrong with me,” Sakai said.
“They say you hit your front, and it’s going to affect your memory,” Nishida said.
“I hit the front, but I’m not stupid,” Sakai quipped.
It was a life changing moment. Several months later, Sakai was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Since then his memory loss has accelerated.
“You just have to answer the questions, no matter if it’s the first time or the 20th time,” Nishida said.
“My mind is okay, you know,” Sakai said.
“Your mind is fine,” Nishida said.
“I’m smarter than you!” Sakai said.
“You probably are… you don’t have to agree,” Nishida replied.
In May, Nishida started taking pictures of Uncle Eddie and posting them on Instagram.
“It just kind of morphed into this, from just posting a picture of him every day to including scenes with the photos, and it kind of morphed into this, ‘Let’s get the word out about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Let’s show them the good and the bad,'” Nishida explained.
Today, Sakai is a social media celebrity.
“We walk out and people are like, ‘Hi, uncle!’ They don’t even know him,” Nishida said.
Nishida says the page is touching people’s lives and bringing awareness to the devastating disease.
“It’s sparking dialogue among other caregivers and it’s also sparking dialogue with people that have been kind of afraid to talk about their moms and their dads,” Nishida said.
Sakai graduated from McKinley High School in 1949 and served in the Marine Corps. He was never married. He cared for his parents until they died.
He remembers most of those life events — even old faces on television — but others aren’t clear anymore.
“He can recall people’s names from the past. It’s just the day-to-day memories is hard for him,” Nishida said. “What’s really nice about uncle, every moment is a new moment. Every day is a new day. Every experience is brand new.”
And every smile is captured, shared and adored by people he’s never met before.
Thanks to his loving and creative nephew, his memory will never fade.