LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Alzheimer’s is slowly starting to take over Barbara Lolley’s life. Her routine is changing, and her memories are slowly slipping away.
“It goes very slowly. The changes are noticeable to me, certain things she does or doesn’t do,” Theba Lolley explained.
Theba, Barbara’s only daughter, has stepped into the role of becoming her full-time caretaker.
“Everything gets smaller and smaller because the brain is dying,” Theba went on to say.
Theba quickly realized her mother needed her. So, she quit her career of more than 20 years and moved in.
“My purpose is to enter into her world.” Theba said.
The role of a caregiver is more commonly being picked up by a family member especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to David Cook with the Alzheimer’s Association.
“When someone is actually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s typically caregiving duties fall to the family and the friends and here in Arkansas, we have 154,000 care givers who are currently providing unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s and dementia so access to care is a huge issue,” Cook explained.
Recent statistics from the Alzheimer’s association of Arkansas shows the disease is quickly outpacing the work force available for care. This is why more people are choosing to care for their loved ones.
In 2022 alone, the state recorded 154,000 unpaid caregivers.
But that care doesn’t come without its challenges.
“As the disease progresses the need for more interventions is needed so there is a lot of emotional and physical strain,” Cook adds.
It is that emotional struggle that Cook talks about that inspired Theba to open up about her journey with her mother. She has started a podcast titled “Don’t You Remember” and a YouTube channel. All of this in hope of connecting with others who are on similar journeys as her.
To find resources for caregivers as well as the latest developments in the disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Arkansas website at ALZ.org.Arkansas.