PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) Recently we have been sharing stories about people in our area whose lives have been impacted by Alzheimer's disease.
Today's story hits close to home because it involves one of our colleagues.
Good Day Philadelphia's Alex Holley shares our Joyce Evans' personal story about her family's struggle.
"We kinda check in with each other a little bit more. We talk about it," Joyce explained.
The 'it' she is referring to, is Alzheimer's disease.
Nearly 5.4 million people in the United States have the condition, while an estimated 700,000 people in the United States, age 65 and older, will die from it this year alone.
"In my family it was my grandmother first. That was our introduction to Alzheimer's Disease," Joyce recalled.
That was back in the 80's.
"She was a feisty little thing! She wasn't even five feet tall and she kind of disappeared before our eyes," Joyce said of her grandmother.
Joyce says the woman who was always quick to tell her and her siblings to do their chores, became someone who couldn't get out of bed, and couldn't feed herself or even talk to you.
When her own mother started showing similar signs, Joyce took noticed.
"I took her in to be examined. She passed the entire test, but two hours later, she couldn't remember what we had done," recalls Joyce.
It wasn't long after that Joyce's mother was diagnosed with the disease, while she was in her late 60s.
She was the first in her generation, but unfortunately she would not be the last.
"My uncle, her older brother, had Alzheimer's. Her younger sister, who got Alzheimer's died, and she was still alive," Joyce explained.
Joyce believes her mother lived with the disease for so long because of the medical treatment she received early on.
"As soon as my mother was diagnosed, I got her treatment with arispect and different kinds of medication that would help her to prolong her memory and her brain cells for a longer time," Joyce said.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer's, there are now tests doctors can do to see if people are at greater risk for getting the disease.
For Joyce and her brothers and sisters, it means paying close attention to one another.
"We all try to watch our diets. We try to keep an eye on each other," Joyce explained.
They also exercise and do activities designed to help keep their minds sharp, and they watch out for unusual signs, such as confusion or memory loss.
"In my mom's case, she would get lost on the way home from places she had been going to for 40 and 50 years," Joyce said, "It's tough, but this is your mom, your sister, this is your loved one. You have to be prepared to care for them."