‘It’s just chaos:’ Jacksonville woman talks on the struggles of dementia caregivers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Millions of people struggle with Alzheimer’s related dementia nationwide each and every year. Now, Mayo Clinic is receiving a $41 million federal grant aimed at eliminating what medical researchers there call a “devastating disease.”


Research like that being done by Mayo Clinic, as well as the caregivers who provide hands on care to Alzheimer’s patients, are both vital in fighting the disease. And for the caregivers involved, it often takes a heavy toll.

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Action News Jax had the chance to speak with Elisa Warden, who has taken care of her parents for two to three years now, who are both suffering from dementia.

“Every day is different,” Warden said. “I mean, you go through this gambit of emotions from just anger to just … I can’t even explain it. It’s just chaos.”

The largest issue according to Warden, is finding time to prioritize her own self-care, while also taking care of her parents.

“It’s so hard. You really have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of them, and it’s not easy,” Warden said.

And Warden isn’t alone. According to statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2023 report, between 2015 and 2021, 29% of Florida caregivers reported depression, while 14% reported frequent poor physical health. Additionally, 66% of Florida caregivers reported a chronic health condition during that time.

Keith Gibson, the Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Alzheimer’s Association says it’s all too common for caregivers to lose sight of their own self-care, but that it’s important to do so nonetheless.

Related Story: Study: Signs of dementia may be detectable nine years before diagnosis

“All too often the focus is on making sure that they’re providing the best care and service possible for their loved one that they neglect their own self-care. And that really also factors into the quality of care that they’re providing,” Gibson said. “It’s very, very important that caregivers take care of themselves.”

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Gibson also says it’s important that caregivers reach out for help themselves as needed, due to the mental and physical strains of the job. Information on resources to receive help at are attached below:

Helpline info: The Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) is available around the clock, 365 days a year. Through this free service, specialists and Master’s-level clinicians offer confidential support and information to people living with the disease, caregivers, families and the public.

Website: www.alz.org