Local couple stays together despite challenge of Alzheimer's

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) Lois Lesher is taking things day by day. Her relationship with her husband Ron is "different," as she describes it, because of a disease that has gotten in the way.

"That's the toughest part... I can't always figure things out," says Ron.

At 71 years old he suffers from Alzheimer's, a degenerative and progressive disease of the brain affecting his ability to think and understand. Even the simplest of tasks are a challenge.

Lois realized he was trying to write a check, and he couldn't put the numbers in.

For four and a half years, from sunrise to sunset, Lois has been there.

"Its very busy every day; I deal with the house, Ron, the dog, the cars, everything."

"If I didn't have her helping me out... It'd be that much worse,"says Ron.

There's no way to stop, slow or prevent the disease. And nearly fifteen thousand people in Northern Nevada have it, either Alzheimer's or dementia, which is the umbrella term for memory loss.

Niki Rubarth is the regional director for the Alzheimer's Association of Northern Nevada. She's working to erase the stigma that people have about the disease and support those affected.

"It doesn't have to be the tragedy that sometimes we may think it is. People are still living their lives and living them well," says Niki.

There's a 24/ 7 help hotline, support groups and a thousand-dollar grant to help caregivers like Lois who are inspiring others.

"It really is a labor of love for her, Niki says. Lois loves Ron and loves her life. She never gives me the impression that she has any sort of negative attitude towards this or feels sorry for herself. She's always optimistic and upbeat."

Even though Ron's memories are fading, Lois' love remains.

"I get sad at times not knowing what's going to happen, but then you don't think about that." says Lois. We have so many good memories and there's pictures and DVDs and well always have that."