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Battling Alzheimer's: How you can help a family living with the illness

Kimberley Schutte is a volunteer with the Alzheimer's Association and she knows firsthand what it's like to lose a loved one to Alzheimer's disease.

She was hit hard when not one but both of her grandmothers on each side of her family were diagnosed.

Kimberley remembers how difficult it was for the family to come to terms with the illness.

"I think some of us knew, but it is just reality, everyone is in denial," says Schutte.

She recalls a time where once the family did accept the tough situation, they all rallied around both of her grandmothers; Dorothy Schutte and Colet O'Bryan.

O'Bryan tragically lost her battle to the illness just 14 months ago.

"And she would just get flustered and frustrated, and that is the time where you are like, 'it is okay, you do not have to remember everything'," explains Schutte.

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

Clint Sowards is a third year resident physician at SIU Family Medicine. He says it is a progressive disease with no cure that affects more than just memory and motor function.

"Someone with Alzheimer-type dementia may forget when to pay the bills or forget how to pay the bills, or may forget even their grandchildren's names, that significantly impacts someone's life."

Kimberley says the community helped both her grandmothers by being vigilant.

If friends saw her grandmothers lost in the community they immediately contacted the family.

Kimberley says families appreciate that kind of support.

For more information you can visit alz.org.

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