On a good day, Elizabeth wakes up at 4:30 a.m. and goes to the gym. She makes coffee, readies her parents' morning medications and changes her mother into fresh clothes. She takes her father to a day program, and sometimes a nurse comes to the house to help her care for her mother, giving her a chance to go grocery shopping or run other errands. Elizabeth is 35, and the primary caregiver for both of her parents with Alzheimer's disease.
Elizabeth was employed and living in Vermont when her father was diagnosed. It became clear she would need to return to her childhood home in New Jersey. Her father, age 81, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and her mother, age 65, followed a few months after.
No one tells you they forget how to sleep, how to feed themselves, how to go to the bathroom. The disease has taken a toll on Elizabeth. 'I like to think of myself as 29, and that all those years are being stored somewhere for me,' she says of the time since her parents' diagnosis. 'Sometimes, I hope I can go back and reclaim all of that.' That's a more challenging aspect.
Elizabeth is among the millions who assist someone with Alzheimer's with these tasks each day. In 2014, friends and family members of those with the disease provided an estimated 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care; two-thirds of caregivers are estimated to be women.
Your children will be responsible to care for you one day if you happen to be in the estimated millions of people expected to have some form of dementia or Alzheimer's. Plan ahead to ease the burden of cost and care. Universal Life insurance with a chronic illness rider can help you with the expenses of the horrible disease. Peace of mind is just the cost of a cup of coffee and donut a day away!