Every day, one of Chris Davies' favorite things to do is play his video games.
Chris has younger onset Alzheimer's disease and was officially diagnosed in June 2019. Right now, he struggles with his short-term memory but these old school games help keep his mind sharp.
“I play these games in the 80s and it's all part of my long term memory. And so I'm able to play them," said Davies.
Younger onset Alzheimer's progresses more quickly than older onset and Chris’ wife, Cheri, is his caregiver.
“Being a caregiver is a really complicated process with Chris being so much younger," Cheri said. "It's definitely one of those things where like, how do we keep him engaged? And so for me, it's a lot of planning. It's a lot of trying to figure out how do I get other people involved? I still have to work. I do only work part time now instead of full time.
What You Need To Know
- The Alzheimer's Association recently released their annual facts and figures report
- The report found that there are over 11 million Americans providing unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, with 546,000 of them in New York alone
Right now, there’s a shortage of professional caregivers and for people like Cheri, being an unpaid home caregiver can sometimes be taxing.
“I go to therapy to talk to my therapist about my own anxiety, about what's going to happen and what does the future look like, because it is really daunting," Cheri said. "You know, you're dealing with a disease where, you know, in the end, like he's going to pass away. Like this is not something we don't know for sure. Like it's going to happen. It's just a matter of when. And that's really challenging to deal with."
The Alzheimer's Association recently released their annual facts and figures report. The report found that there are over 11 million Americans, like Cheri, providing unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, with 546,000 of them in New York alone.
Compared to other caregivers, depression is 30-40% higher among dementia caregivers but the Alzheimer’s Association has free resources available to help.
“So we provide information and referrals to set you up with those agencies that you need to manage this disease. And we also provide disease education to the patient and caregiver. We have support groups so that you can collaborate, if you will, with people that are walking in your shoes," says Elizabeth Smith-Boivin, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association for Northeastern New York.
When caregivers reach out for resources, they’re able to provide manageable at home care for an average of two years longer than people who are not supported. Cheri said when you’re dealing with a disease like Alzheimer's, time is something you can never get back.
“I want to be able to do as much as I can while I have the opportunity. I know there's going to come a point where I can't handle everything that's going on. So while I can, I'm going to be the one to do it," Cheri said.