Alzheimer's disease taking a toll on Utah women

Published: Tuesday, March 18 2014 10:05 p.m. MDT

Of caregivers who feel isolated, the report states that women are 17 percent more likely to link isolation with feeling depressed, compared to only 2 percent of men.

According to the report, there are 140,000 Alzheimer's caregivers in Utah who give 159,000 hours of unpaid care valued at more than $1.9 billion.

McDaniel will take a new job with the Utah chapter of the Alzheimer's Association at the end of the month. She said she has properly grieved the mental death of her mother; now she wants to do something proactive.

Until then, she will continue to chat with her mother during the day, let her play with their cat Jake, take her for walks, and listen to Diane Hinckley talk to her reflection in the mirror like a long-lost friend.

"They're just giggling and carrying on a conversation," McDaniel said. "So you just giggle with her and enjoy the experience with her."

Harold Hinckley said the diagnosis has been hard on their family. His plans changed dramatically; serving an LDS mission with his wife and traveling were no longer options.

Instead the family is learning how to cope and get through the emotional and physical challenges that he said you can't really prepare for.

McDaniel treasures that photo album. She wishes she had documented her mother's life before she couldn't remember it.

"Everyone needs to be careful and make the most of what time you have, and then prepare for it in case you don't," she said.

Lee and McDaniel hope to see more financial and political backing to find a cure or treatment for Alzheimer's and dementia.

Lee said if Alzheimer's disease was eliminated tomorrow, half a million lives would be saved each year.

"It just continues to put out a lot of beautiful light," McDaniel said.

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com

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