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Citrus case highlights Alzheimer's challenges

Posted at 4:15 PM, Feb 09, 2016
A 69-year-old man and his 89-year-old mother were found dead in their Inverness home Monday night.
 
Deputies found Lee Mone and his mother, Kay, dead on Daly Lane.
 
Mone left a note saying he was having trouble caring for his mother, who had advanced stage Alzheimer's Disease. This is a struggle many of you in the Tampa Bay area deal with daily. So we're taking action, exploring what resources are out there to help caregivers.
 
Brooks Gentry vividly remembers how he felt when his mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's almost eight years ago.
 
"It was terrible. I didn't know how to deal with it," Gentry said.
 
Gentry quit law school and moved in with his mother to become her full time caregiver.  He says getting her medical, legal and financial needs met was overwhelming. So after nine months, he made the difficult choice to put her into a care facility.
 
"All the emotions, all the physical labor that it takes to prepare all the meals, keep them safe and secure by keeping your eyes on them 24/7, all of that adds up to something that's more than just what one person can handle," Gentry said.
 
The Alzheimer's Association said too often families wait too long to get educated about the disease and know how much is involved in becoming a full time caregiver for someone with the disease.
 
Brenda Licht's mother is 83. She lives part of the year with her in Florida and the rest of the time with family and hired help in California. She said getting connected to the Alzheimer's Association was a lifeline.
 
"All the materials, reading materials, support groups, everything that they do here, they want to get it out so anybody dealing with this...because it is very, very difficult. If you don't know about it or don't know there's help available," Licht said.
 
In fact, just in the Tampa Bay region, there are more than 120 support groups to help caregivers and patients.
 
The Alzheimer's Association will even send someone to your home if you can't get to them. And if you find you can't handle being a caregiver yourself, there are memory care clinics, home health options, assisted living and adult daycare facilities to help.
 
"Don't let yourself get to a point where you feel like this disease is hopeless," Milne said.
 
Brooks Gentry ultimately pursued a career in elder law because of his experiences navigating his mother's Alzheimer's diagnosis. He operates a practice in Seminole, and volunteers on the Alzheimer's Association of the Gulf Coast Board.
 
You can get connected with help in your area through the Alzheimer's Association.  
 
The Florida Caregivers Network also has a wealth of information, including several support groups in the area. You can learn more at FloridaCaregiversNetwork.org.