Posted 7:54 AM 3/19/2013 : Alzheimer's takes a toll on caregivers
The Alzheimer's Association has released a new report on the mind-robbing disease and the toll it can take on the millions of people who care for those with Dementia.
Les Kuykendall glows when he's asked to describe his mother, Betty.
"When you hear the word "moxie" -- that would describe my mom."
Now, another label has been given to Betty; she's been diagnosed with Dementia.
"My mom looked at me and she said, 'do you know... you look familiar to me... you look a lot like my brother.' My mom didn't know who I was. And that broke my heart."
Les is one of the 15-million Americans who are caregivers for people with Alzheimer's Disease or another form of Dementia.
Adding to Les's burden, he's been caring for his mother long distance.
"She wouldn't eat, but she would tell us over the phone, 'oh yes I ate' - but she wouldn't be eating. There was no way to truly keep tabs on her."
Two new reports -- one from the National Center for Health Statistics and another from the Alzheimer's Association -- find the death rate from Dementia has increased dramatically in the past decade.
The Alzheimer's Association reports 1 in 3 senior citizens dies with Dementia.
"Alzheimer's disease kills. It actually is a debilitating disease, one that takes a lot of time and effort to care for something with... but it also is a disease that ultimately takes your life," says Maria Carrillo, Ph.D. With the Alzheimer's Association.
Caregivers like Les provide up to 17 billion hours of unpaid care a year -- valued at 216-billion dollars.