Alzheimer's is a devastating disease. In its early stages it may be no more than a bit of forgetfulness. Where are those dang car keys? As Alzheimer's progresses the complications unfold with the continuing decline of mental abilities. Ultimately, individuals fade away before their time, losing touch with loved ones and the realities of daily life.
If you know people - chances are you do - then you know someone with Alzheimer's. According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are currently over 5 million people with Alzheimer's in the United States. Another person develops Alzheimer's every 71 seconds and it's the seventh leading cause of death. Baby boomers beware: it's estimated that over 10 million boomers will develop Alzheimer's in their lifetime.
Often forgotten in the assault of Alzheimer's are the caregivers. These are the loved ones whose lives are also turned upside down by the diagnosis of Alzheimer's. Gone are the carefree days of life. They find themselves suddenly cast into new roles, assuming significant responsibilities at a time when they are often least mentally and emotionally prepared to do so.
Don't go it alone.
The emotional toll of losing your loved one to Alzheimer's is a terrific burden. It's a journey that should not be taken without the love and support of family. But, as important as family is, there is great comfort to be found in the experience of fellow caregivers: those husbands and wives, sons and daughters, who are walking your own road. They intuitively understand your burden. They've dealt with the same physical, emotional, and financial tolls. They've walked through the same grief.
There are several terrific support groups available to help you through the process of caring for someone with Alzheimer's. See this from the Family Caregiver Alliance for an overview of Alzheimer's and a discussion of the role of the caregiver. For a vibrant community of support for Alzheimer's caregivers, see this from MDJunction.com.Please: Don't go it alone.