Tenny Tsai lost her grandmother to Alzheimer’s disease more than 30 years ago, but she still gets emotional when talking about the woman she lived with most of her life — first in Taiwan and then in California.
“I was devastated when the doctor delivered the diagnosis and told us she probably had only one year left to live,” Tsai says. “But we pulled together as a family and cared for her like every day was her last.”
One year of attentive, compassionate care turned into seven. When Hung Yu Bee Kuang passed away in 1990, it left a gaping hole in Tsai’s life. “A voice inside me said, ‘Now what? What do I do?’” she says. “I realized the best way to show my love for my grandmother was to turn my grief into action.”
An Alzheimer’s Association supporter and volunteer since the 1990s, Tsai spearheaded the creation of the Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter’s Asian Community Fund in 2001. The fund enables the chapter to provide bilingual and bicultural staff, volunteer training, support groups and literature in three Asian languages. It also allows the chapter to handle hundreds of Chinese language phone calls for information, referrals and care consultation, and to reach 2,000 individuals in the Asian community annually through education programs.
Today, Tsai continues to make generous gifts and asks others to join her in donating to the Asian Community Fund. She believes her fundraising is most effective when she speaks from the heart. “When others hear the grief in my voice after so many years, they want to help, even if they haven’t experienced Alzheimer’s themselves,” Tsai says.
Tsai’s grandmother continues to inspire her commitment to fighting Alzheimer’s. “By passing the love she gave to me on to other people, I’m showing my love for her,” Tsai says. “I still miss her every day.”
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