My eldest sister, Dianne, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's shortly after her husband died after a massive heart attack. He died at home, and she was stranded with the body for 20 minutes before help arrived.
At first, we thought it was just the shock of his death until we noticed more things were not right. She doesn't have children, and since I was already caring for my elderly mother, we moved her in with Mom and me.
She was usually a happy person and knew no strangers; but that slowly changed. She became very fearful of people and irritable at nothing. Mom passed away, and I was left to care for my sister.
The local Alzheimer's Association was a true godsend for us. I was able to have a few hours every day to do what I needed to do to keep things running smoothly. The people at the center became very good friends, and I advocate for them daily.
My sister is now in a facility that takes very good care of her, even if she is just a quiet, non-responsive person. She still smiles occasionally when one of my sisters or I visit, but she cannot see, speak or eat.
Within the last few months, I have received news that an aunt, a cousin and an in-law have all been diagnosed. We have to stop this disease.