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'It was devastating' | Charlotte woman shares her aging mother's battle with Alzheimer's

Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's or dementia.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte mother Katherine Fuchs spends a lot of time in Asheville these days in order to care for her aging mother.

It's a trip she has been making since her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2011. All of this while Katherine was facing the everyday challenges of taking care of a newborn baby.

"We did not expect this at all," Katherine said.

Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's or dementia. Microsoft founder Bill Gates invested $100 million into Alzheimer's research after his own father was diagnosed.

As more adult children find themselves taking care of their aging parents, we wanted to know if anything can be done to stop the disease from happening to the next generation.

Katherine Lambert with the Alzheimer's Association said signs include memory loss that disrupts daily life, inability to complete routine tasks and confusion with time and place.

"Dementia, I would say is not normal aging," Lambert said.

"There have been significant changes in behavior and judgment," Lambert said.

"I can't imagine as a new mom having a 6-month-old and how stressful that is and then having this with your mom... what was life like for you?" asked NBC Charlotte's Sarah French.

"It was devastating," Fuchs said. "I wanted her to be that grandmother that would come play with my kids and be here as they aged."

Lambert said the very first thing I would say is while you are living in this caregiving role, you have to take care of yourself. The data on other health challenges that impact the caregiver are astronomical.

Then there is the anxiety that comes with wondering whether you're next.

"I am scared to death of getting this disease," Fuchs said.

There is no evidence you can prevent dementia in any form but research has shown certain practices help slow cognitive impairment. Exercising and eating the Mediterranean diet top the list.

"It's not what I want to eat living in the south but it's something I'm trying to incorporate," Fuchs said.

Apps like Lumosity and Fit Brains trainer offer a variety of cognitive games to keep your mind sharp. Crossword puzzles, taking classes and reading are also helpful.

"I am trying to make changes in my life," Fuchs said. "Even small changes."

Changes she hopes will ensure her children will not have to go through the emotional journey she is not taking with their maternal grandmother.

"It's made me really appreciate my parents and everything they did for me," Fuchs said. "I wish I could tell her that now. Just knowing the kind of mother she was just trying to make me be a better mother."

"Let's let that mess be on the floor," Fuchs said. "Let's crank up the music and be silly. Let's have cake for breakfast ya know sometimes you just need those moments that my kids will hopefully remember."

Those interested in following Fuch's journey can click here to check out her blog.

If you think a loved one might be in the early stages of dementia, call the Alzheimer's Association for an assessment at 1-800-272-3900.

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