Holy Cross Sociology Professor Offers Voice for Those With Alzheimer’s Disease

Associate professor of sociology, Renée Beard, can trace back her initial interest in Alzheimer’s disease to when she was fourteen years old. Working as a housecleaner in a nursing home in a small New Hampshire town, she met Margarita Wheeler, a resident originally from Montreal, who had what was called “Oldtimers” at the time. While Wheeler was generally alone, in part due to never marrying or having children, she was also sequestered into a corner room as far from the common areas as possible.  In spite of being warned by staff that Wheeler was “no longer there,” Beard developed a relationship with the woman. Beard would covertly slip Canadian mints into hermouth whenever possible and Wheeler called Beard “Goldilocks” every time she saw her. Within the context of this unconventional relationship, these seemingly small, mundane moments of connections were monumental for solidifying Beard’s passion on the subject.