Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease for both the patient and its family, which more often than not also take care of him. Awareness is rising and new studies imply that more millennials wish to help family members that struggle with Alzheimer’s.
Tessa Smith is one of the teenagers that have started to do more willingly. When she and her mother come home after a long day, the first thing they do is to check how Richard, Tessa’s grandfather, is feeling. Richard is a military veteran and former marine. Due to the effects of the disease even minor daily tasks are difficult for him. Sarah, Tessa’s mother describes him as the model father that everyone deserves: king, helpful, always there for his family when it matters. To see him in such a weakened state is heartbreaking.
Richard lost his long during a mission several years ago and he has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In order to help him, Sarah and Tessa decided to bring him to their apartment so they don’t have to commute every day. Sarah’s partner is taking care of Richard during the night and Tessa and her mother are helping him during the day. They prepare meals, administer his medication and help him dress. During the particularly bad days Richard forgets their name and the disease continues to progress.
Tessa is worried about her mom, as the pressure o going to work and taking care of Richard while also doing housework is quite high. Their situation is national, as 16 million family caretakers help their relatives every day. According to statistics, up to 60% stated that they feel very stressed while up to 40% will develop a depression.
The problems caused by the disease, exposure to the patient and the help offered to affect the entire family and the effects become more pronounced as time passes.
The toll is especially high for young family members as they have to become more mature and accept responsibilities that are usually reserved for adults. The prohibitive costs of specialized assistance mean that many families have to do their best in order to keep their suffering member healthy.
A recent bill passed by the progress should alleviate the problems for many family caretakers around the country.
Laura grew up in a small town in northern Quebec. She studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married her husband one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children. Laura is an advocate for people with disabilities.