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Oregon Alzheimer's Advocate Raising Awareness In DC

<p>Mark Donham said that even with financial support from a relative and long-term care insurance, he cashed in about a third of his retirement funds while caring for his wife, Chris, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer&rsquo;s in her 40s. He quit his salesman job in 2006, thinking he would be a full-time caregiver for up to three years. Chris lived for five years.</p>

Damian Dovarganes

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Mark Donham said that even with financial support from a relative and long-term care insurance, he cashed in about a third of his retirement funds while caring for his wife, Chris, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in her 40s. He quit his salesman job in 2006, thinking he would be a full-time caregiver for up to three years. Chris lived for five years.

A new study by the Alzheimer’s Association finds that families often cut back on basic needs to pay for care.

The report shows caregivers are 28 percent more likely to suffer from food insecurity and that 20 percent of them sacrifice their own medical care to look after a loved one.

Mark Donham is a Portland man who gave up his career in his 40s to look after his ailing wife. He’s in Washington, D.C. this week to raise awareness of the disease.

“In the top 10 illnesses in the United States, it’s the only disease that doesn’t have a treatment or cure. And the only way we’re going to do this is to get more money so that we can find research, get the research to find a cure or treatment,” he said.

The impact of Alzheimer's disease on families is expected to increase over the next few decades as people live longer and the baby boom generation retires.

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.