Medford man with Alzheimer’s moving forward with bucket list

In a renovated school bus, called "Brightside," he's traveling the country to visit every National Park.

MEDFORD — At just 51 years old, Jeff Craddock began showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.

He started to notice that he was becoming forgetful and sometimes disoriented. “I knew there was something that wasn’t right, but I was trying to figure it out myself,” he said.

In 2017 he went on medical disability from Harvard Business School and months later he got the official diagnosis.

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“They were just saying you have Alzheimer’s and it’s not a death sentence but this is what you have, and I was like sure, sure no problem but I got home and hit the floor, I just fell to the floor and was sobbing and couldn’t stop.”

Not long after, Jeff got up off the floor of his Medford home and along with his wife and three children, they started to think of ways to live each moment to the fullest.

His wife, Elissa Carreras, said, “We were the folks that said someday, someday we’d love to go the all the National Parks with our kids; ‘Wouldn’t that be fun to someday renovate a school bus and turn it into a tiny home? You know someday?’ What we realized is someday has to be now.”

Jeff Craddock, with his wife, Elissa Carreras.
Jeff Craddock, with his wife, Elissa Carreras.

Months later, they renewed their wedding vows, raised money to renovate that school bus and turn it into a tiny home they call ‘Brightside.’

Now, they are visiting as many National Parks as they can.

Jeff and his family say they are extremely grateful that a coworker of his strongly suggested that he get checked out.

The Alzheimer’s Association says that it is still unusual for someone in their 50’s to get the disease but out of the 5.8 million Americans with Alzheimer’s Disease, approximately 200,000 have what is considered younger-onset, 65-years old or younger.

Jim Wessler the CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Massachusetts and New Hampshire Chapter said, “If it is Alzheimer’s disease it’s important to know that early certain Jeff and Elissa have demonstrated that you really can start making some life choices and decisions and not waiting until the disease progresses and not waiting and really taking advantage of the quality time you have now.”

Jeff and his family stuck to New England for the first leg of their trip but hope to go further west next year and make it to the Grand Canyon.

Jeff said, “That day when I got the diagnosis and hit the floor, that’s over with now, you know, you just have to keep moving forward.”

Wessler explained that anyone who thinks they have symptoms should contact a doctor just in case. The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24-hour hotline at 1-800-272-3900.