NEW YORK (CBS 2) — It’s estimated that nearly 5.5 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s devastating and not only for the patient, but for the patient’s family, Dr. Max Gomez reports.

When Phyllis and Bob Fouche were married 38 years ago, they vowed they’d be together for better or for worse. They dreamed of retirement, but that dream was shattered 10 years ago when Bob was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.

“He was forgetting. He was getting confused,” Phyllis said.

Now she’s more like a mother to Bob than a wife. She never has time to herself, and there’s her home she must look after, all of which takes a toll.

“I have to do everything. He’s in his own world,” she said.

According to new statistics released by the Alzheimer’s Association, there are nearly 15 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in the U.S. That’s 37 percent more than reported over the last 10 years.

“They’re friends and family that are giving up their time, that are giving up  many hours and actually donating more than 17 billion hours to care for people with AD,” said Dr. Maria Carrillo of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Russell Patterson left his full-time job in New York for another job he never expected, taking care of his 77-year-old mother Edith.

“I had my own life. I had an apartment in Manhattan. I knew something had to be  done,” he said.

“People caring for people with Alzheimer’s Disease report a very high level of stress and actually over a third of them report living with depression,” said Carrillo.

The Alzheimer’s Association helped Patterson with a daytime caregiver so he has some time for himself.

The number of people with Alzheimer’s Disease was expected to triple by the year 2050.

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