It's estimated that one in ten people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer's disease and with a growing population on the Western Slope the number of people with the debilitating disease is bound to grow.
"I'll never forget the day we were sitting in the doctor's office and she didn't remember my name--that's hard," Joni Karp told 11 News on Monday.
Karp's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease five years ago.
She says it's one of the hardest things she's gone through.
"To watch the person you've known your whole life that has raised you and done things slip away."
Karp and her husband cared for her mother until she had a stroke then they had to look for 24–7 care.
"We were lucky we got the ball rolling early."
Karp says it was a lot of work but she found a home for her mother.
But for others on the Western Slope who have loved ones with Alzheimer's the number of open beds is dwindling.
"There's limited facilities on the Western Slope," VA Hospital Spokesman Paul Sweeney told 11 News on Monday.
Sweeney says the hosptial has had to hold patients two to three weeks, sometimes longer while they try to place them in an assisted living facility.
He says a growing elderly population and a lack of facilities under lock and key really limits options for patients.
There are only four facilities in Grand Junction that care for Alzheimer's patients and only one of them takes medicaid.
"It's a problem that's gonna remain on the Western Slope for a while. We would like to see more facilities."
And although some say there are a lack of facilities, Joni Karp says there's no lack of support.
She's now working with the alzheimer's association.
And even though she says she may soon lose her mother, she knows her final gift may bring life to others.
"We have donated my mom's brain it's gonna go directly to research and hopefully help find a cure or help others."
For more information on the Western Slope Alzheimer's Association or if you need help finding a facility for your loved one, click on the link below or call the helpline: 1-800-272-3900
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