This is part two of a four-part series. Tune in to the KHON2 News at 7 on KHII Monday-Thursday of this week for more.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 16 million Americans are currently providing unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
Often, it is the family members who take care of their loved ones with the disease.
Dana Ong started seeing the signs of Alzheimer’s as her mom, Frances Ong, got older.
“We started to see that she was forgetting how to get to places that she had been to 100 times,” Ong explained about some of the symptoms her mom had.
At 79, Frances Ong was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Over the next 11 years, the disease would worsen. Eventually, Frances Ong couldn’t remember how to walk and she became bedridden. Dana Ong was one of her mother’s main caregivers.
“The first frustration is when you get the same person asking over and over again, and you have to learn how to acclimate to their understanding of the world,” Ong said about the biggest frustration of caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Ong said she learned not to correct her mother if she repeated questions.
However, being a caregiver was not easy. Ong said it was emotionally draining to watch her mom’s abilities decline.
Ong said taking time for herself and going to support groups helped her pull through.
Ira Kazama is a facilitator of an Alzheimer’s support group. Kazama highly recommends anyone caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s to join a support group.
“It’s the first time [for] many of them they see [that] there’s somebody else that understands what I’m going through,” Kazama said about why support groups are helpful.
Kazama said going to a caregiver support group can help relief stress.
“You’ll see them coming in initially with frowns, and then later smiles, and even laughter,” Kazama said.
The 2019 Oahu Walk to End Alzheimer’s is Saturday Nov. 9 at Magic Island. It is free to participate. Register for the walk here.