Searching for a Cure for Alzheimer's Disease

Actor David Hyde Pierce felt helpless while watching two loved ones succumb to Alzheimer's disease. Here, he shares his family's struggle and why his advocacy work gives him new hope.

Ellen Byron
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David's top Alzheimer's caregiving tips
In 2011, 15 million people provided unpaid care to loved ones with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association (AA). More than 60% of caregivers rate the emotional stress as high, and one-third report symptoms of depression. Here's how you can minimize any stress and give your loved one the best care possible:

1. Take advantage of an early diagnosis.
Devastating as it may be, an early diagnosis means your loved one can make crucial decisions before the disease starts to take a serious toll. "People…can plan things they've always wanted to do," says David. "They can also plan for the end—whether it's financial planning or medical choices."

2. Know that Alzheimer's affects everyone differently.
"There's an expression we have: If you've seen one Alzheimer's patient, you've seen one Alzheimer's patient," says David. "Even though the general pathway of the disease is the same, how it progresses and the way it affects people can be wildly different."

3. Don't be afraid to get help. 
"[Alzheimer's disease] is terrifying, and people are sometimes so afraid that they don't talk about it," says David. "I think there's a big fear of being isolated socially." Reach out to the AA ( or the Us Against Alzheimer's Network (

Photo: David Hyde Pierece (left) with his father, George

April 2013