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Leaving Your Legacy

Grandfather with two grandchildrenNow that you are living with Alzheimer's, it becomes even more important for you to live your life in a way that will preserve the essence of who you are and make an impact in the areas that are most important to you. This positive effect on others becomes your legacy.

What it means to leave your mark on the world

You can choose how to live your life with Alzheimer's disease, and thinking about the legacy you want to leave may help bring perspective to facing a disease like Alzheimer's. What you value and the life lessons you have learned can leave an extraordinary imprint on future generations. Being mindful of how you want to be remembered will help shape how you choose to live each day.

I now have a new job: to fight for a cure, to raise awareness and to share my story with anyone who will listen.

Pam M., Living with Alzheimer's

"Leaving a legacy" can seem like such a grand idea. But, think about how you can make an impact and how your life has been touched by others who have come before you. The ways these individuals have touched your life is the legacy he or she has left you. These may be very simple things — what a person has taught you, created or given to you. It can be a skill passed on to you, or a different way of seeing the world that has become part of your core values.

Now is the time to think about what you'd like to pass on to others or making changes that affect something you care about.

To start this process, ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of my life?
  • What do I stand for?
  • How will I choose to live my life as an example for others?
  • What brings me joy now? How can I share that with others?
  • Who has been important to me? How have they had an impact on me? Can I honor them in some way by passing it on?
  • What am I proud of? How can I build on those things to affect the future?
  • What can I create for someone? What skill can I teach?
  • How can I help others? How can I make life better for other people?
  • How do I want to be remembered?
  • What do I want my family/friends to know about me?

Live in the moment: Many individuals find that receiving a diagnosis helps them appreciate the gift of time and the value of living in the moment.

Ideas for leaving your legacy

There are many examples of how people living in the early stage of Alzheimer's have decided to leave their legacy for their families to have and cherish.

Some people have chosen to create something for others to have and keep. One woman videotaped herself reading stories to a grandchild so that future generations can experience the same joy. Another person wrote a cookbook of favorite recipes for family members to enjoy. Others focus on spending quality time with family and friends to create memories to cherish.

Ideas that may help you leave a positive effect on others include:

  • Creating a family tree that includes details about each person.
  • Writing letters to grandchildren about your life. Share what you have learned and what you hope for them.
  • Making photo albums for the important people in your life that give details of a wonderful time you had spending time together.
  • Volunteering your time with an organization you believe in. One way you can volunteer with us is becoming an Alzheimer's advocate. Your voice and efforts will help people with dementia have access to the care and support services they need to live their best life.
    Learn more: Advocate
  • Making family celebrations especially meaningful, such as a destination family reunion or theme party.
  • Bringing back family traditions that have slipped away in recent years.
  • Taking trips to places you have lived or visited, and sharing your experience with others.
  • Nominating yourself for the Alzheimer's Association National Early-Stage Advisory Group. Advisors are leaving their legacy by sharing their stories, raising awareness and providing input for appropriate services and programs for others living in the early stage. 
  • Participating in Alzheimer's research as a clinical trial volunteer is a great way to make a difference for future generations. Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch® is a free service that matches people with clinical trials in their areas.
    Learn more: Clinical Trials

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