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Jun 2, 2010 10:38 AM by Monica Quintero

Apparent murder-suicide sparks concerns for caregivers

An apparent murder-suicide of a couple near San Miguel has sparked concern for those living with a loved one with Alzheimer's. The shootings happened in the 2400 block of Rock Ridge Lane Tuesday morning. A neighbor told KSBY News a retired couple lived at the home and that the woman was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He said her husband had battled throat cancer and was in remission.

Denny Colbert, neighbor, said, "He just seemed tired which is understandable. I mean, if you're trying to take care of your wife and the situation that he was in, was pretty much 24 hours a day." Still, he was shocked this happened. Colbert said, "I would have never, ever, ever would have dreamt this." Sara Bartlett is with the California Central Coast chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. She said, "There certainly is a degree of desperation that comes with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's because it is a fatal disease." Experts said long term medical troubles for people living at home takes a toll on caregivers emotionally and physically. Barlett said, "It does get progressively worse over time, so sometimes caregivers feel there's not much of a light at the end of the tunnel."

A California statewide survey of caregivers gave this comparison on the impacts. When asked if their duties are emotionally stressful, 44-percent of those taking care a person with severe memory problems or Dementia said yes, versus 26-percent for those caring for a person with other medical problems. Sleep interrupted was 32-percent compared to 22-percent and physical strain 24-percent versus 13-percent. "I think it's really important that family members be on the look out," said Bartlett.

While there are still many unanswered questions in this situation, experts suggest if you see signs of isolation from the caregiver reach out and help. Experts also said you should be concerned if you see someone finalizing their affairs or those of their loved ones. There are lots of support groups and they don't have to do it all alone.

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