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Charles Tang, 84, ManhattanTakes care of his wife, (Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Charles Tang, 84, Manhattan
Takes care of his wife, Amy, 76, at home
Until recently, Charles Tang had enough confidence in his wife Amys memory that he would let her walk by herself the short distance to the adult day program in their neighborhood that she had been attending for several years. But when she went missing for more than two hours one day, Tang started following his wife to make sure she didnt get lost. Its just one of several new duties that Tang struggles with on a daily basis. He has had to learn to cook and make sure his wife washes and changes her clothes, all while keeping her from becoming agitated. If he were younger, it would be easier to pick up these new habits, he said, but at his age, its been difficult.To serve her, its lots of stress, Tang said. Sometimes I can hardly take it. Shes become an entirely different person. Its stressful to deal with her."(Sept. 17, 2009)

Alzheimer's on Long Island: The caregivers

The many faces of the caregivers of people with Alzheimer's. Click here to buy a reprint of any photo. To buy a copy of any video, send us an email.

Anne Suzuki, 57, Port WashingtonHelps care for her
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Anne Suzuki, 57, Port Washington
Helps care for her husband, Yutaka, 62, who was recently placed in an assisted-living facility
Anne Suzuki began to notice changes in her husband, Yutaka, in the late 1990s, when he became more quiet and withdrawn. In 2001, Yutaka was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. The disease's progression was slow, but by last year not only did he deteriorate, he became violent. Even seeing his own image enraged him, and all of the reflective surfaces in the house had to be covered. The once sweet, gentle man -- who never raised his voice -- attacked his wife of 34 years and when she called police, they had to subdue him. Soon he was put on medication and in April was placed in an assisted-living facility.I dont think Ive fully processed the violence, Suzuki said. I think its like a movie reel which Ive put away in a big can thats gonna sit on a shelf and get dusty, and at some point Im gonna have to take it out and relive it. I still dont like to sit in my kitchen and see someone looking in the mirror. It triggers those memories. (September 2009)

Andy Suzuki, 22, Port WashingtonHelps care for his
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Andy Suzuki, 22, Port Washington
Helps care for his father, Yutaka, 62, who was recently placed in an assisted-living facility
Andy Suzuki was only 14 when his father, Yutaka, was diagnosed with Alzheimers, so he spent many of his teen years watching his fathers memory and verbal skills deteriorate. More recently, Andy has had to take on the role of calming his father down when he becomes agitated. Last year, Andys father became violent and chased his son around the dining-room table. Andy has tried his best to help his mother and to ensure her health does not suffer from her caregiving duties, but he acknowledges that it has been a tough road. You know, Im the youngest child so it was like having a younger brother who is mentally disabled, Suzuki said. Unfortunately, for better or for worse, I stopped seeing him as a father figure a long, long, long time ago. Which has helped distance myself from some pretty tough situations. Its been a job or a chore for almost eight years."(September 2009)

Charles Tang, 84, ManhattanTakes care of his wife,
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Charles Tang, 84, Manhattan
Takes care of his wife, Amy, 76, at home
Until recently, Charles Tang had enough confidence in his wife Amys memory that he would let her walk by herself the short distance to the adult day program in their neighborhood that she had been attending for several years. But when she went missing for more than two hours one day, Tang started following his wife to make sure she didnt get lost. Its just one of several new duties that Tang struggles with on a daily basis. He has had to learn to cook and make sure his wife washes and changes her clothes, all while keeping her from becoming agitated. If he were younger, it would be easier to pick up these new habits, he said, but at his age, its been difficult.To serve her, its lots of stress, Tang said. Sometimes I can hardly take it. Shes become an entirely different person. Its stressful to deal with her."(Sept. 17, 2009)

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Ellen Smith, mid-60s, HolbrookTakes care of her husband,
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Ellen Smith, mid-60s, Holbrook
Takes care of her husband, Irwin, known as Smitty, 71, at home
Ellen Smith was not prepared for the changes Alzheimers inflicted on her husband, Irwin, affectionately called Smitty. Having married while still in her teens, Smith thought she knew everything she could possibly know about her husband, but Alzheimers brought out an entirely new personality. He became agitated and aggressive, and just years after the diagnosis, she could no longer go out to restaurants and stores with him. He often had hallucinations that others were trying to kill him; he would also try to kill his wife. Ellen had thought their golden years would be spent traveling and spending time together. Instead, she said, she feels very alone, even with her husband still at home. We thought we did everything when we were young, that this would be the time in our lives when we would be able to enjoy ourselves and do different things together, Smith said. I had all my children before I was 26. I figured at this point in our lives wed be enjoying ourselves. It didnt happen. (September 2009)

John Allen, 67, St. AlbansTakes care of his
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

John Allen, 67, St. Albans
Takes care of his wife, Catherine, 61, at home
John Allens wife, Catherine, was working as a regulator for insurance companies when she began to have trouble on the job, forgetting her work and losing track of tasks she had to perform. She was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2003. At first Allen thought he could handle being her sole caregiver, but as Alzheimers took over and he had to take on more and more duties, their daughter, her husband and their two children moved in to help. Having to assist this once fiercely independent woman get dressed and ensuring that she doesnt wander from the house has been difficult. But the true pain comes from watching someone so intelligent turn into a shell of her former self. She went from a person who was in total control of the household expenses, her business, her accounts, to basically not knowing they exist, Allen said. (September 2009)

Caregiver John Rauh cared for his father who
(Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Caregiver John Rauh cared for his father who had Alzheimer's. His mother also has the disease. (June 4, 2009)

Kim Latkovich, 38, ManorvilleHelps care for her mother
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Kim Latkovich, 38, Manorville
Helps care for her mother Helen, 67, who was recently placed in a nursing home
Kim Latkovich had watched her aunt die from Alzheimer's so when she started seeing the signs in her mother, Helen, she knew Alzheimers was back to haunt their family. After the official diagnosis in 2003, Latkovich began helping with caregiving duties. But as time went on, she struggled to help her father, Orlando, care for her mother. She would come by two to three times a day, helping shower and change her mother, all while trying to take care of her own two young children. When the family decided that Orlandos health was in jeopardy from the burden of caring for his wife, they placed Helen in a nursing home. I definitely did feel some guilt, but then I had to think about what am I going to do for my kids? Latkovich said. If I just stayed taking care of her, what are they going to do? Its not fair for them to sit in the house every single day while Im taking care of my mom. Or not being able to go anywhere, not being able to take them to a movie because I have to take my mom. I had to think about them also at the same time. I had to try and forgive myself. (September 2009)

Orlando Gonzalez, 66, ManorvilleHelps care for his wife,
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Orlando Gonzalez, 66, Manorville
Helps care for his wife, Helen, 67, who was recently placed in a nursing home
Orlando Gonzalez had watched his wife, Helen, care for three of her siblings as they succumbed to Alzheimers, so he had his suspicions when she began struggling at work. A State Supreme Court clerk for 23 years, his wife seemed to be suddenly overwhelmed by her job. At home, she struggled to balance her checkbook and bought the same grocery items over and over. Gonzalez had hoped they could retire together and enjoy their later years with their grandchildren, but an Alzheimers diagnosis in 2003 ended those dreams. If you really think about it, you worked all your life, you pay your taxes, youre a good citizen and this is the time we have left and were robbed of it, its gone, Gonzalez said. And its a slow death, its not a quick death. (September 2009)

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Mary Williams, 66, ElmontTakes care of her husband,
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Mary Williams, 66, Elmont
Takes care of her husband, Calvin, 80, at home
Mary Williams has learned that it only takes a minute. In that short time, her husband, Calvin, will find a way to sneak out of the house and wander off. He has done it dozens of times and has been found as far away as Brooklyn. He often leaves without a coat or shoes, and his family fears its only a matter of time before hes injured. Still, his wife is determined to try to keep him at home. She has put alarms on the doors and has registered him with the Alzheimers Associations Safe Return program. This is what I have to do, Williams said. Because I feel that if it were vice-versa, he would be doing the same thing for me. (September 2009)

Maxine Atkins, 67, MelvilleTakes care of her husband,
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Maxine Atkins, 67, Melville
Takes care of her husband, Bill, 74, at home
Maxine Atkins and her husband, Bill, first noticed something was wrong four years ago when he began having trouble using nouns. When he would speak, he just couldnt come up with names for anything, something that was highly unusual for the well-educated associate dean of Nassau Community College. He would eventually be diagnosed with frontal temporal lobe dementia and has since developed problems with walking and motor control. The couple used to love to travel and see Broadway plays, but that happens less and less these days. Instead, Atkins finds herself in the unrelenting role of caregiver.I dont have a husband, Atkins said. I have a husband but I dont have a husband, which is just the reality of it. I guess thats the hardest thing. Its the loss of independence. Everything must revolve around Bill, it just must. (September 2009)

Pat Moffett, 62, Great NeckHelps care for his
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Pat Moffett, 62, Great Neck
Helps care for his wife, Carmen, 66, who lives in a nursing home
Pat Moffett cared for his wife, Carmen, at home for as long as he could. But he knew something else had to be done when she became violent and began to attack not only him but the aides he brought in to watch her while he worked. He had her admitted to a psychiatric hospital, although he fully expected her to come home after treatment with medications. Instead doctors recommended that she be put into a facility. The move pained Moffett and drove a wedge between him and his children that remains to this day. Moffett visits his wife as often as he can and has become an early stage Alzheimers advocate. He frequently gives speeches, sponsors a monthly support group dinner for caregivers and wrote a book, Ice Cream in the Cupboard, about his experience of having a wife with Alzheimers. His wife no longer recognizes him, but he hopes his visits bring her some comfort. You know thats all you can do is kind of give her a hug and maybe she realizes someones there that loves her, Moffett said. (September 2009)

Patrick Kammerer, 17, Massapequa ParkHelps care for his
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Patrick Kammerer, 17, Massapequa Park
Helps care for his father, Brian, 51, at home
Patrick Kammerer was just 10 years old when his father, Brian, was diagnosed with Alzheimers. He remembers his fathers gregarious personality, going golfing with him and going to his uncles house upstate. Kammerer holds on to these memories as he watches his fathers personality change. He has a shorter fuse now, Patrick said, and he often doesnt remember names, often calling his son buddy. Kammerer wants to go away to college, but he worries about leaving his family behind and about losing even more of an evaporating relationship with his father. Thats my worst fear, Kammerer said. That I go away to college and I come back and he doesnt remember me. (September 2009)

Kathleen Kammerer, 49, Massapequa Park Takes care of
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Kathleen Kammerer, 49, Massapequa Park
Takes care of her husband, Brian, 51, at home
Kathleen Kammerer started sensing something was wrong with her husband, Brian, when he was in his mid-40s. Still, she was shell-shocked when he received an Alzheimers diagnosis at such a young age. The grieving began almost immediately, as she mourned for the father her three young children would never really know and the memories Brian would eventually lose of his family. Suddenly the milestones that she had always envisioned her husband being a part of celebrating graduations, walking his daughters down the aisle at their weddings were altered. Family celebrations became bittersweet. She struggles as the sole breadwinner of a family once headed by a high-powered Wall Street executive. As Brian slowly gets worse, Kammerer fights to keep her family together. Little things in our future that people dont think about, or they just look forward to, and everything in that brief minute literally is just taken away from you, Kammerer said. Stuff that youre not thinking about in 20 years is gone because you know what Alzheimers is, you know that memory is the biggest thing. And its gone, its done. Because he isnt . . . hes not going to understand. (September 2009)

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Kate Kammerer, 14, Massapequa ParkHelps care for her
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Kate Kammerer, 14, Massapequa Park
Helps care for her father, Brian, 51, at home
As the youngest of the Kammerer children, Kate has the fewest memories of her father, Brian, before Alzheimers moved in with the family seven years ago. But there are snippets of incidents and behaviors that she remembers, like her father rooting for the Jets or smoking cigars and blowing smoke rings on the deck with her uncles. Now a teenager, she finds it difficult going out with her father in public. Having dinner in a restaurant, her father can become confused, leaving the waitress wondering and the family struggling to explain his behavior. She acknowledges feeling embarrassed during these times. Friends also do not seem to grasp what it means to have a parent with the disease.One of my friends, she says her grandmother has Alzheimers, but shes like in her 80s, and she says she understands. But she really doesnt, because her grandmas 80 and my dads only 50, Kammerer said. (September 2009)

Colleen Kammerer, 15, Massapequa ParkHelps care for her
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Colleen Kammerer, 15, Massapequa Park
Helps care for her father, Brian, 51, at home
Colleen Kammerer admits she doesnt have much patience with her father, Brian, at times. He repeats jokes over and over and tends to fixate on certain things, asking her for change from the payment he gives her when she borrows money and getting upset if his dinner isnt ready on time. But on other occasions, the absence of a father the father she knew when she was a child takes center stage, forming an inescapable sadness. Like when they have a father-daughter dance at school and she has to tag along with a friend and her father. Sometimes, Colleens father seems to sense this sadness. At times hell bring up, like I want to be good to you now because I dont know if I was good to you then and stuff like that, Kammerer said. (September 2009)

Paula Rice, 56, ManhattanTook care of her mother,
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Paula Rice, 56, Manhattan
Took care of her mother, Mabel, 84, until her death in a nursing home two years ago
Paula Rice's aunt had Alzheimers, so she had a sense of what she was in for when her mother, Mabel, was diagnosed with the disease in her late 70s. But when her mother began to wander and Rice spent nearly a year without getting a good nights sleep, she fully understood the physical toll of caregiving. Next came the emotional toll, as she watched her mother, a teacher for 30 years, become a child again. This role reversal shook Rice to her core. You just have to kind of like go along with whatever it is theyre saying or thinking and its tough because youre looking at your parent and you just want to like shake them back into normalcy, Rice said. And it hurts you because this is the person who used to give you advice. It just really breaks your heart. I guess you hope that theyre going to get better but you know theyre not. (Sept. 28, 2009)