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Family 411: Keeping Alzheimer's caregivers healthy

Wife of man with Alzheimer's says caregivers have to keep themselves healthy (WSYX)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKRC) - Alzheimer's can have a high emotional impact. There are different avenues to help ease the stress but caregivers need to take care of themselves, as well.

"Ron was my best friend as well as my collaborator." Researcher Jan Kiecolt-Glaser and her husband Ron Glaser have been married for decades. They worked together just as long.

What the two studied about spouses as caregivers became Jan's reality. "In 2014 he was diagnosed with early Alzheimer's and in the next year he progressed really really rapidly."

Ron Glaser, an immunologist and distinguished scholar, could no longer think or speak clearly.

Jan kept him home until she could no longer manage on days without in-home help. "He was very confused and he could do things that were dangerous."

Ron has a family history of alzheimer's. Jan stresses to families to seek a diagnosis early should you begin to see the signs. "There are some medications that can help with symptoms."

Make sure your finances are in order. "There will be a point where if the house is in your spouse's name or in both your names you wouldn't be able to easily sell."

And have a healthy lifestyle. Jan says stress on caregivers alters your response to flu vaccines, causes a rise in inflammation and slows wound healing. "Making sure you have good supports, exercising is really important, eating healthily."

Jan says caregiving is often viewed as living bereavement. She keeps cherished moments close to heart. "You watch the person you love disappearing and I watched him disappear."

Ron now lives in a memory care unit.

If you think you need a care facility, Jan recommends getting on a waiting list as early as possible.

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