Alzheimer's - be a caregiver, find a cure

This week, we're taking a look at a disease that affects many families across the country: Alzheimer's.More than five million Americans have the disease and by next year it's estimated nearlyhalf-a-million more people will be diagnosed.

The disease is extremely hard on families,robbing a person's ability to remember, perform daily activities and relate to others.Clinical trials are under way to develop new treatments that may one dayimprove the lives of both patients and caregivers.

Michael Reagan, a radio talk show host and son of former President Ronald Reagan, continues to raise awareness. This year marks five years since Ronald Reagan passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimer's. Northwest Cable News talked to Michael Reagan about his mission to help families find treatment options through clinical trials.

We're never going to find the cure if people don't get into these trials and take those first initial steps to find the cure, he said. We may not cure grandma or grandfather right now, but we may cure you. We may cure your children in the future, but that's only going to happen if you get there now.

If you want to find out about the clinical trials for Alzheimers check outtheNational Institutes of Health web site. And know what to look out for. The Alzheimer's Association has a list of the10 warning signs of the disease.

Caring for aging parents

Many Baby Boomers are finding themselves caring for their aging parents. A 2004 study by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving found the typical caregiver is a woman, about 46 years old, who spends an average of 20 hours a week caring for her mother. And it can take a toll on you. Our friends at havesome common pitfalls to avoid to keep everyone, including yourself happy and healthy.

First of all, don't try to do it all yourself. Assign jobs to other family members and friends, like getting groceries, doing taxes, or just visiting. You can also get your kids involved. Don't overlook community resources. Talk to local churches and senior centers that offer services like transportation and small home repairs.

Finally, don't get in the habit of making all the decisions for your parents. Try to talk to them about their needs and wishes.

And remember you can watch Northwest Families Wednesday nights at 7 p.m.and Thursday mornings at 8 a.m. on NorthWest Cable News.

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