For better or worse, husband gives everything for wife with Alzheimer's

By Matt Porter

September 18, 2013 Updated Sep 19, 2013 at 10:59 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) When 89-year-old Bill Smith married his wife Rose 63 years ago, he never imagined he'd have to watch her slowly lose her memory.

He didn't notice what was going on with his 84-year-old wife at first.

"We see each other all the time, and you don't notice something like that right away," Bill Smith said.

Two years ago, Rose took a memory test and when Bill read her answers, he knew for the first time something was wrong.

His wife and her energy were slipping away.

"She used to walk from here to Port Dick park and around the park three times and then walk back," Smith said. "She can barely walk now."

Now, Bill spends every moment he can with his wife.

At night, he wakes up every two hours to help her to the bathroom.

Bill said the last thing he wants is to bring his wife to a nursing home.

"We've had a nice life together," he said. "And I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

Bill brought in a caregiver from an organization known as Home Instead.

The company helps people keep their loved ones in their own homes.

General Manager Joe Conaty of the Broome County office said he understands the pressures facing home caregivers.

"In the early stages it can be relatively easy, the person can be left alone," Conaty said. "But as you advance, you get to a point where it's constant 24/7."

The hired caregiver from Home Instead helps Rose with meals and other needs while Bill can take time out to manage the rest of the house.

Knowing that Rose will only deteriorate, Bill said he's ready.

"For better or worse," Smith said, remembering his vows. "We've had the better, 60 years of it. I can do with the worst."

More than 35 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

On Saturday, the Alzheimer's Association is holding a walk at Otsiningo Park to raise money and awareness of the disease.

September is Alzheimer's Awareness Month.