Caring for Alzheimer's patients

Alzheimer's affects an estimated 350,000 Texans and caring for someone with the disease can be a difficult task. For that reason, Alzheimer's Texas is honoring caregivers and one woman, Becky Beaver, has been chosen as Texas Caregiver of the Year.

Becky and her husband John have been through it all together. "We celebrated our 40th anniversary last January 1st, last New Year's Day."

From traveling the world to raising a family, Becky says that they've always tried to make sure there's something to look forward to every day.

Joy has filled their lives but the last decade and a half has brought big challenges.

"We never know what is going to happen on any given day," Becky says. 

It was 15 years ago that the family started noticing changes in John. 

"He was suffering personality changes. John has always been very easy going, very good sense of humor, not easily upset, very very very smart, very on top of things and he was forgetting little things. And he was being very angry," Becky says.

A few years later, John was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Since then Becky and her family have surrounded themselves with a support group to fight off the side effects of the disease.

The family makes sure to keep John active every day.

But for those families who don't have support there is help in Austin. Alzheimer's Texas is a non profit providing a variety of programs to those suffering with the disease.

Dr. Ron Devere is the group's chairman and says often times those suffering from Alzheimer's don't even know they have it. Family members are the one who start noticing changes.

"In addition to memory, people start getting trouble with judgment , insight, reasoning, making rational decisions or another person can have trouble communicating," Dr. Devere says.

Dr. Devere says getting the family involved in care is very important. Cognitive exercises and patience is a must.

As for Becky she says there are good and bad days. But at the end of the day caregivers need to remember their love for the person.

"It's hard. It's hard sometimes. You just really feel like that you're so inadequate," Becky says. But she reminds caregivers to not "get down on yourself because it's really easy to do. Just keep the hope up because the next day will be there and it can be brighter and it can be better."

Becky says she doesn't take credit for anything John has been able to achieve. She thanks her support system and John for pushing himself.

The Hidden Heroes Luncheon, where Becky will be honored, takes place on April 25. You can get more information and get tickets here.

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