New report shows health concerns for Alzheimer's caregivers

Amanda Aguilar Image
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
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Alzheimer's caregivers in California are facing more barriers. A new report reveals alarming data on caregiver health.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Alzheimer's caregivers in California are facing more barriers. A new report from the Alzheimer's Association reveals alarming data on caregiver health.

Bob and Julie Gray of Fresno have been married for 36 years. The couple has two daughters.

Those 36 years have been filled with many memories for the family to look back on.

Until seven years ago, Julie was 67 years old and showing signs of Alzheimer's Disease.

"We all started noticing that Julie was having trouble remembering things and asking the same question over and over again," recalled Bob.

That was the beginning of Julie's Alzheimer's journey, and Bob said it went downhill fast.

"I would come home, and she's back out in the garage crying because she couldn't find me," said Bob. "What happened in the house is I could be in a different room, and she'd be yelling my name. 'Where are you? Where are you?' That started really getting me."

Bob was Julie's primary caregiver for years -- it took a toll on him mentally, emotionally and physically.

"I went to the doctor, and I had an MRI. He said, 'This is serious. You have a severe back problem,'" Bob explained.

In the Alzheimer's Association report, around 74% of caregivers were "somewhat concerned" or "very concerned" about their own health.

"We don't think about ourselves because our main focus is to care for our family member who is living with Alzheimer's," said Susana Rodriguez, the regional director.

Before getting back surgery, Bob made the difficult decision to put Julie into an assisted living facility.

"As you head down and you make different changes, you have to adjust and be adaptable to what's going on because there's a lot of detours," he said.

Bob was able to find comfort within a support group through the Alzheimer's Association.

"People would come and talk about their different stages, and then you find yourself going through that stage six months later, so you're prepared for it," Bob said.

As Julie's journey with Alzheimer's continues, Bob and their family are constantly learning. While he said it's the hardest time in his life right now, it's also been the most productive and rewarding.

"I'm always trying to find different ways to make life more valued to Julie," said Bob.

The Alzheimer's Association has an extensive amount of information and resources available to families impacted by the disease.