My Dad has dementia that will eventually lead to Alzheimer's. He is 77 y/o, and was diagnosed about 7 years ago.
I came home "temporarily" about 11 years ago to put my life back together. Mom & Dad were there for me when I needed help....so now I get to be here for them. Alzheimer's is a cruel and painful disease....mostly for the family and people around them. I would say we are probably in the middle to late-middle stage of the disease...with the occasional cross-over into late stage situations. The worst part of this is watching how upset my mom gets sometimes. Dad is becoming someone else and she is losing him slowly, every day.
I am glad that I can be here physically and emotionally for them. My mom would not be able to do this on her own. She is not physically strong enough to handle him. I kind of see my job as protector, peace-maker, distractor, and occasionally I have to be the bad guy (especially when it comes to Dad's shower-night). I haven't always handled this well, but I try to do everything with as much love as I can.
One of the most helpful things Mom & I have done is try to educate ourselves. Here in the USA there is the Alzheimer's Association (www.alz.org) and they are a great resource for information and they can direct you to local chapters with more local resources. We attended a 10 week training course for caregivers (one day/week for 10 weeks)that helped us to better understand the disease, how it progresses, things to look for, and strategies for disarming potentially volatile situations. The course was either free or really affordable -which is good because my folks don't have deep pockets to dig into.
Dad is home for now, and probably the foreseeable future. We don't have the financial resources to put him into a care-facility. The average nursing home runs somewhere around $7000/month....it would wipe them out....and I'm not one of those millionaire-gays with tons of free-flowing cash to pay for this either. We do have a small long-term care insurance policy that allows us to take my dad to an adult day-care a couple days/week -which is good for him and for Mom. It's a nice place and everyone there is really focused on keeping the participants engaged and safe. He likes going there, and it gives my mom a break to do other things.
We have legally begun to plan for the future. My mom still deserves to have a life, and I can not allow his disease to affect her health. At some point Dad will need more care than we can give him. I hope he passes before we get to that point. I don't want him to suffer, I don't want my mom to suffer, and I don't want suffer either.