Her story is just one of millions of people who are on the same journey. Watching a loved one deteriorate can be extremely difficult. As strong as caregivers are, sometimes they just need to know they're not alone.
This is Beth.
This is Beth's mother Marilyn.
7 years ago, Beth noticed that Marilyn wasn't able to balance her checkbook anymore -- something she'd always done.
Beth noticed that Marilyn would return from the grocery store with items she didn't need and had never intended to buy.
One day when Beth was out of town, her sister called with the news. Her mother had a diagnosis: late first-stage Alzheimer's disease.
Having worked on an Alzheimer's unit, Beth knew exactly what was in store for her and her family.
The day after recieving her mother's diagnosis, she opened a birthday card her mother had sent. Her mother had mispelled her own name. Seeing the disease's effect so clearly spelled out was devastating.
That was the beginning of a journey that's all too familiar to so many people.
- Currently, 1 in 3 seniors die of Alzheimer's or another dementia.
- In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion.
- A little more than 3 in 5 of those unpaid caregivers are women. And women are more likely to get Alzheimer's than men.
- There are 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease that you can watch out for to get treatment early, including memory loss that disrupts daily life, trouble understanding visual and spatial relationships, and new problems with words in writing or speaking.
Still, there's hope in the face of Alzheimer's.
Scientists are trying hard to find ways to delay and prevent it. Treatment after early diagnosis might help relieve some symptoms and allow a person to live independently longer. In the meantime, families are focusing on management of the disease. Support groups are there to help them cope. And a little understanding goes a long way.