“I don’t think anybody is ever prepared for taking care of a parent like that, but it’s definitely a lot harder when you’re not older and don’t have lots of resources to do so.”
photo: r-l Mollie McCune, her mother and older sister. Photo provided by Mollie McCune.
It is estimated that 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, but that figure is projected to triple to 14 million by 2050. Women make up two-thirds of Alzheimer’s caregivers. Mollie McCune fits into that demographic, however she is decades younger than many people who find themselves caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s.
21 year old McCune, who is a senior at CU Boulder, has been the primary carer for her mother since she was diagnosed with early onset dementia diagnosis.
“When I was in high school we started noticing some weird symptoms with memory loss, couldn’t remember when she had appointments, she would miss appointments and stuff like that. ”
Doctors initially dismissed the symptoms as menopause, but when McCune was a high-school junior, her mother was diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia and then early onset Alzheimer’s. “It was earth shattering to put it lightly. It was really hard at first just because you don’t know where to go, you don’t know what the next steps are and you don’t know who to talk to because people my age aren’t dealing with that kind of thing.”
McCune’s mother is now 56 and is getting ready to move into a memory care facility, but McCune has been juggling her studies, her own life and taking care of her mother.
“It made me grow up really quickly. I had to juggle normal teenage things, friends, wanting to go hang out with friends, wanting to play sports and go to high school dances and stuff like that and all of a sudden I have to do all that on top of having to take care of my parent. It was very stressful and overwhelming because you have to do all these things that you’re not prepared for. I don’t think anybody is ever prepared for taking care of a parent like that, but it’s definitely a lot harder when you’re not older and don’t have lots of resources to do so.”
Mollie McCune will be the guest speaker at the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado’s 4th annual Reason to Hope luncheon in Boulder at noon on Friday, April 28th at the St. Julien Hotel.
The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado has 8 offices state-wide, including a new office in Boulder. They offer resources to those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and support services for carers and family members. Their helpline number is (800-272-3900).