Sadly, Alzheimer's will probably afflict someone you know or love eventually. In 2009, more than 5 million Americans were living with the disease, and it is the number seven cause of death.
A person with the disease will need a special kind of person to care for them. It is a somewhat thankless job, especially considering the abuse that patients tend to dole out. It is common for someone with dementia to become abusive both verbally and physically. This is usually in the later stages of the disease however.
Many families are turning to those in the extended family who are best equipped emotionally, physically, and mentally to step up and help with their loved one and will pay that person for their help. It still saves money for the family if the patient is able to stay home rather than live in a care facility.
When a child of the patient is the care giver, it is a complete role reversal. It is now the child that will handle every facet of care for their parent, including bathing, and diapering in most cases. It takes a great deal of patience and dedication to care for an adult who is unable to do any of these things for themselves.
If you find yourself in this life altering situation, remember to be patient. It is the disease that is causing the behavior of your loved one. Try not to take it personally if they yell at you or try to swipe at you when you are trying to help them.
There does come a point, though, when it is important to consider the health of the caregiver as well. Many spouses of the afflicted ones are caring for their dear husband or wife of many years. This causes a myriad of emotions to be experienced by the caregiver every day. They will feel sympathy, of course, but also anger, hurt, confusion, and guilt. It is a heavy burden to carry, and will definitely wear on them over time. Sometimes it will be up to other family members to not only help out with the every day chores, but to step in an make a decision to move the patient eventually to a care facility. This can be a painful decision, of course, but should not be put off so long that the caregiver's health suffers.
If you suspect that someone you love has the beginnings of Alzheimer's Disease, you should learn all you can about it, have family meetings to discuss strategies, and have a plan in place for eventual placement. Being informed and prepared will help make it all a little less painful.