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Alzheimer's disease: What you need to know

Posted at 6:31 PM, Oct 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-23 21:31:00-04

Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement that she's been diagnosed with the early stages of dementia is shedding light on Alzheimer's disease. 

It creates not only an emotional burden on thousands of families across the country, but a financial one as well. 

The Alzheimer's Association has a 24/7 Helpline: 1-800-272-3900.

Valley resident David Collier has chosen to be his father's primary caregiver after he was diagnosed with a form of dementia two years ago. 

"Now my job is taking care of my dad," Collier said. "You have to really minimize. We don't have cable. We've gotten rid of everything that's extra." 

But not every family is able to do that. The Alzheimer's Association says the disease is the most expensive in the country. The average out-of-pocket cost after insurance is $10,000 each year. 

Officials at Banner Alzheimer's Institute said it's important to have a plan: If you notice a family member tends to repeat themselves a lot, have a doctor check them out. If a loved one is diagnosed early on, you'll be able to have a conversation with them about what steps they're comfortable with for the future. 

Staff there can also direct families to an abundance of resources from social workers to financial planners. 

For David, he says caring for his father from home has been a learning experience. 

"To watch him be a shell of what he was, that's really sad," he said.  But he says there is hope. 

"There are those times you feel like you're the only one walking in this situation," Collier said. "It's not until you meet other people, you're like, ok we're not the only one's experiencing this." 

If you're looking to get in touch with the Alzheimer's Association, they have a 24/7 hotline: 1-800-272-3900.