Husband: My wife's hands were very beautiful and she put them to work planting flowers in the garden, tulips, irises, roses and other flowers that would bloom all summer long. I really miss the beauty that we once had. My wife's garden was the best in the neighborhood, but now she doesn't even know what to do with her hands. My wife has forgotten how to do the simplest things. We use the Meals on Wheels. My health hasn't been very good lately. This care I'm giving my wife is really wearing me down. I love my wife very much but I don't know how much longer I can go on like this.
Ellen Rezek (Social Worker): There are four million people in the United States with Alzheimer's disease. The numbers are growing every day. By the year 2050, nearly 14 million people will be suffering with Alzheimer's disease in one stage or another.
Narrator: The millions of people with Alzheimer's disease may all need caregivers. Some of these caregivers will be spouses. Some will be adult children. Some will be other relatives or friends. And some will be professional caregivers. In a sense, they are also suffering from a disease for which there is currently no cure. Their roles as caregivers could last from three to fifteen years. Imagine being a caregiver responsible twenty four hours a day for yourself as well as someone else for such a long time.
Rezek: The caregiver's task can be made easier when supportive services are provided. The earlier those services are used, the more likely it is that the caregiver will be able to provide care for a longer period of time. They might even be able to find some joy and love in their situation.
Narrator: Being a caregiver for a family member with Alzheimer's disease often requires a great deal of patience, flexibility and creativity. Caregiver support groups allow caregivers to share ideas and feelings about the problems they face. Members are usually open about where to find quality services in the area. Most caregivers, though, find that they can't always give the care that is needed. Personal care homes, nursing homes, or around-the-clock home care services help with the physical tasks of providing care. This allows for quality time which can be spent visiting and sharing quiet moments together. These times are never easy. Watching someone you love gradually change over the months and years is a painful experience. Simply being able to talk with a caring person can make all the difference in the world.