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Why Millennials Should Be Terrified of Alzheimer's

Nick Norton, Huffington Post 8/14/2013

 

My mother and I were recently forced into a new job: caring for my grandfather who has Alzheimer's. My grandfather Charles requires around-the-clock care, and our family has adapted to his needs. Chuck, as his friends call him, is a light-hearted and funny retired Ford engineer. He was an expert mechanic, a war veteran and a doting grandfather to myself and my sister Charly -- who's even named after my grandfather. My grandpa isn't alone -- as over 5 million other Americans are struggling with this incurable and life-altering disease.  

Alzheimer's is defined by the American Alzheimer's Association as "a form of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks." Those with Alzheimer's lose the ability to do things that were once routine. As the disease progresses, patients forget their loved ones' faces, where they live and much more. 

The stress of this disease, though, largely falls on the patient's caregiver. An elderly adult caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's has a 60 percent chance of dying before the patient, and this past June, my family saw this firsthand. My grandma Margaret died suddenly of an aneurism after caring for her husband of 60 years. Her death left our family lamenting the stress she lived with in her final years.

Stepping into my grandmother's shoes has been a difficult experience for my mom and me. Trying to get through normal grief is hard enough, but simultaneously caring for my grandpa challenged us on many emotional levels. Slowly but surely, time eases the pain of grieving a loved one, but there remains a hole in our heart that will never be healed.

 

Read the complete post here.