Again, to quote Maria Shriver on her father's condition, "I don't mind having to reintroduce myself—at least I still have my dad." It is that disconnect between the person that you knew and the person that he is now that can be so hard emotionally on family members and friends.
But the difficulties can be financial as well. The Alzheimer’s Association Web site has an array of resources, including information on "tax breaks for caregivers" and a "carefinder" for finding qualified people to assist with your loved one's care. Your local aging office can refer you to a geriatric care manager who will assess your situation and give suggestions for care. These professionals are specially trained to deal with the unique aspects of aging, including Alzheimer's, and can provide practical tips.
There are treatment possibilities for Alzheimer's that scientists are exploring, but the current state of the science is to try to slow down the progression of the disease so people are able to function as an active part of the family for as long as possible.
Please remember, this disease is progressive and caregivers need help in providing care to their loved ones. Please don't try to do this alone—use a circle of care that includes family, friends, and professionals:
- You might need help with in-home care.
- You might need to find a good care facility for your loved one.
- You definitely need to take care of yourself too!
Through it all, I hope you can find some moments of enjoyment with your loved one. As Maria says, "she's just glad to have her dad" still with her.