When Max Wallack visited his "Great Grams" at a nursing home for patients with Alzheimer's disease, he made a simple observation: Alzheimer's patients, who are often agitated, seemed calmer and more focused when they worked with jigsaw puzzles.
After his great-grandmother's death in 2007, Wallack decided his discovery was too important to just let it fade away. The next year, at the age of 12, the determined youngster began collecting puzzles and distributing them to Alzheimer's patients.
The result was his creation of the nonprofit Puzzles to Remember, which accepts donations of new and "gently used" puzzles.
So far, Wallack's nonprofit has distributed more than 5,400 puzzles to 380 nursing homes and veterans institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients in all 50 states plus Mexico and Canada. The idea has even reached across the ocean, where Alzheimer Portugal is now modeling a program on Puzzles to Remember.