Alzheimer's disease growing rapidly, more families turning to in-home care

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News 12 First at Five / Friday, April 19, 2013

EVANS, Ga. (WRDW) -- The number of people with Alzheimer's is growing rapidly.

Every 68 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and the number of quality care facilities isn't keeping up.

"It's pretty much having a 2-year-old that's 150 pounds and you just kinda take them around," said Michelle Miller.

Miller is a mother of four and takes care of her father, Larry, who has Alzheimer's. He was recently diagnosed as severe.

"The hardest part is watching him fade before my eyes. Seeing my dad looking identical to what he was as I know him but watching his mind just go," Miller said.

Her father has basically lost his ability to speak and his memory is gone.

"There is no, 'Hey dad do you remember when?' He doesn't," she said.

Miller and her mother care for him full time at their home.

"Your time is not your own," Miller said. "You need to make sure the patient is up, has gone to the bathroom, shower, shaved, hair combed, deodorant put on because they don't do that anymore."

In-home care is becoming more and more common among Alzheimer's patients. More than 70 percent are cared for at home by family members.

"For many individuals, they're staying at home because they may not be able to afford the cost of daycare, they may not be able to afford personal care homes or assisted living facilities," said Kathy Tuckey with the Alzheimer's Association.

There's also a lack of quality care homes for dementia and Alzheimer's patients, but for Miller, the reason for keeping him at home is more personal.

"This time, it's very fleeting, and we're never getting it back, so I would rather hold onto it and be with him," she explained.

Even though the father that's there isn't quite the same.

"I mean, he appears the same, but he's not there and that's heartbreaking, just seeing your loved one go," she said.

Approximately 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's, and the Alzheimer's Association expects that number to triple over the next 40 years.

They also say people are getting Alzheimer's at a younger age. They are seeing a lot more families in their 40s and 50s dealing with the disease.

Alzheimer's does not have a cure, and they say it's a disease that needs a lot more awareness.

The Alzheimer's Association of Georgia is holding its annual Walk to End Alzheimer's disease on Nov. 2.

Click here to visit the association's website.

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