You finally have it all figured out. Your career and home life are in sync, your kids are grown up enough to head out on their own (yet still need you, a little), and you’ve started thinking that you might actually be able to retire someday.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s can change all that. Arriving in the prime of life, the disease can derail your home life and career, making you face up to a whole different set of expectations.
For the young adult children of parents who have early-onset, the disease takes its own particular toll. That person who was ready to head out is now often recalled to be a live-in caregiver, a role that can involve postponing opportunities such as jobs, school, or even marriage.
“Suddenly, I was facing a life path I really hadn’t considered before,” says Dylan Cooke, referring to the day she found out her mother, at 60 years old, had early-onset. “I don’t think people are ever ready for something like that, but I certainly wasn’t ready for that, at 24, that day.”
What can someone suddenly in the new role of caregiver do to cope?
Cooke started spending a lot more time with her mom than she might otherwise have. Lindsay O’Bannon joined a support group that had other young caregivers. Tyler Summitt, whose mother was a public figure, arranged matters with doctors, the family lawyer, and their financial advisor.
“You kind of go from being taken care of to taking care of your parent,” said Summitt.
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