I am a 41-year-old working mother of two. And I am my mother's caretaker.
Joyce graduated at the top of her class and was a supervisor for a customer service department until she started forgetting. She was able to retire when she was diagnosed at 60. That was seven years ago. In hindsight, she had symptoms at least two to three years before that, but we were all in denial.
This is the toughest challenge of my life. I was not aware of what this disease actually does to a person and their family. The public misconception is that people with Alzheimer's forget things and get lost, but it is so much more than that. I feel like Mom has disappeared.
Alzheimer patients not only forget where they put their keys, they forget themselves, who they are and who they were. Mom cannot dress, bathe or use a fork. She has lost all cognitive abilities and cannot tell the difference between reality and hallucinations.
I feel like she is engaged in a constant battle within her own brain. She sees people and talks to people that are not there. She has no memory of my father who she was married to for 35 years until he passed 14 years ago. He had cancer, and although he suffered and was in pain, my mother's pain is deeper and her suffering is tremendous. And their is no end of it in sight. She will live and suffer for years to come.
Eventually, Alzheimer's will take her physical life, but it took her years before. Everyday I pray for a cure for this horrible disease. I think if the general public really knew what this disease does to a person, that it could happen to anyone, there would be more action to fight it.