Caregivers; families gather at Alzheimer's forum - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Caregivers; families gather at Alzheimer's forum

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Caregivers and family members of Alzheimer's patients receive a special message today; you are not alone.

Speakers at the forum offered more than practical strategies addressing every day challenges as reason for hope, they shared their personal connections to the disease that claims the memories of a new person every 69 seconds.

Greg Kyrouac directs the School of Medicine pertaining to Alzheimer's related disorders at Southern Illinois University.

Today he's not just a voice of knowledge, but one of experience as well.

His grandmother suffered from the disease.

"It was difficult at times obviously she doesn't always remember everything. She doesn't remember my name. That can be upsetting to people but what she did remember is that she still knew how to play music."

Losing memory doesn't mean every detail is lost. While his grandmother didn't remember who Greg was, she recognized his role in her life and he says, that kept him going.

"She knew emotionally that I was somebody who loved her and cared for her. And even thoughs she didn't know the name, maybe she didn't even know I was her grandson. She knew that we were somebody that was connected and that was important to know."

With a slowly progressive nature Alzheimer's can last from 2 to 20 years

"When you start noticing something, memory-wise, it could be a good ten to twelve years before you're really in the full throws of the disease," says Susan Sklar, Alzheimer's Association.

Sklar's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 6 years ago. She passed just months ago and while watching her mother's condition deteriorate was heartbreaking, she considers herself lucky for a reason many cannot.

"She always knew who I was, thank goodness for that. But not having my mother, she forgot my birthdays, she really didn't know what Christmas was. It was very, very difficult not having that support."

For more information:

www.alz.org/illinois

www.osfsaintanthony.org

www.siumed.edu/alz

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