More than 100-thousand people are living with Alzheimer's in Indiana

Caring for aging parents or loved ones is always a difficult scenario but what about when your parent or loved one doesn't remember who you are? More than 5 million people are living with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease in the U.S.

"Well, everybody's different. Some Alzheimer's patients can ambulate and talk and others are bed bound and others are somewhere in between so it really is a case-by-case situation and the disease progresses in  totally different ways for everybody so you just have to take it day by day with whatever that patient or that loved one is presenting themselves with."

That's Sharon Andresen, a traveling hospice nurse who works with the Hospice Care Center in South Bend.  

We spoke to Sharon about Alzheimer's disease, a common disease she sees in a lot of her patients.

Here in Indiana more than 100-thousand people are living with Alzheimer's, a diagnosis that's difficult for the patient and their loved ones.

"In the beginning it's harder on them I think and toward the end it's harder on the caregiver because they've lost their ability to communicate or what they do communicate doesn't really express what they're feeling or thinking or even their confusion. So trying to meet their needs becomes more of a care giving challenge as they go through the stages."

And Sharon knows this first hand. Her own mother passed away after struggling with Alzheimer's disease.

"I mean when my mom was aware of the changes it was really hard. She would say to me 'What am I going to do when I can't remember who you are?' and all I could do was hold her hand and we would hold hands and say 'We will face it together.'"

But Sharon's biggest tip is to just take it day by day. 

"Regardless of what stage they are at, even if you feel like you're losing the person you love and you are, you can love the person that's still there and enjoy that person at that level. I learned that each different level my mom was that although she may have changed in ways I don't think she would've liked you know. If she could recall that it still was a new opportunity to love the new person she was becoming."
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