Alzheimer’s disease is devastating — not only for the more than 6 million Americans living with the disease, but also for the 11 million family and friends serving as caregivers. Here in Arizona there are 262,000 family caregivers.
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month, offering an important reminder to support caregivers in our state.
The caregiving needs for someone living with Alzheimer’s are extensive and increase over time — on average four to eight years following a diagnosis. Many family caregivers juggle competing priorities including work and other family responsibilities.
Arizona caregivers are often stretched thin. Many are overwhelmed. Most could use help.
I am one of these caregivers. My husband, Kevin, has younger-onset Alzheimer’s at the young age of 57. He was diagnosed in 2017. Younger onset Alzheimer’s progresses rapidly. Kevin has needed 24/7 care since 2018. He has passed swiftly through the stages of this devastating disease.
In January of this year, he lost his ability to communicate, walk or even eat on his own. Caregiving is both mentally and physically exhausting in and of itself; But for me, and I think others like me, caring for a young spouse takes on a different challenge.
Not only are we ensuring that our loved ones’ needs are met, but a lot of us still have a full-time career, children, and parents that need support, in addition to all the regular life demands. Without the support of other family members and friends it isn’t possible.
This November, the Alzheimer’s Association Desert Southwest Chapter is asking all Arizona residents to reach out and lend a hand.
Take time to support a caregiver you know. Run errands, help with a household chore, give caregivers a break by spending time with the person with dementia, and educate yourself about the disease — the more you know, the easier it will be to help. Reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association Desert Southwest Chapter to learn more and get involved.
These small gestures can make a big difference and offer well-deserved support to those who give so much; and they will go a long way in supporting Arizona caregivers during a year that has been challenging for all.
Editor's note: Tina Rodrigues is operations manager at Alzheimer’s Association. Visit alz.org.
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