Jim and Andi Erwin have been married for almost half a century.

Andi Erwin, Jim's wife says, "As the saying goes it is definitely a long goodbye."

Jim was diagnosed 14 years ago with Alzheimer's disease.

Andi Erwin says "Jim was a brilliant man, speaking was his life."

But, about three years after being diagnosed with the disease, Andi says Jim lost the ability to speak, read, and write.

Andi Erwin says, "You sit back and cry in a corner and you try not to let them see you are hurt."

Sadly, Andi is not alone. The responsibility of caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's disease often falls to women. Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women.

Andi Erwin says, "You have to say this is another speed bump in our life."

As, Valentine's Day rolls around, Andi says it's no longer about the holidays, but rather taking one day at a time.

Andi Erwin says, "Forget the anniversary cards, forget the Valentine's Day cards, you see them all siting there and you know that you are not going to get one."

Andi says getting through this journey has been difficult, and it's impossible to do alone. She says one of the hardest things was taking that first step and going to the doctor to see what was going on.

Amy French says, "Early detection and early diagnosis gives the person with the disease and the caregiver the opportunity to plan ahead."

That's why if you notice any symptoms like: memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in planning or solving problems, or difficulty completing familiar tasks, it is time to visit a doctor.

While this can be one of the most challenging and painful times for people, Amy says she tries to encourage families to see the sunshine hidden in the clouds.

Amy French says, "The opportunity to really focus on the moment, and we are only given these moments and diseases like Alzheimer's really brings that home."

For more information on Alzheimer's disease, click here or call 423-265-3600.