Rick Phelps, 57, knew something was wrong when he started to have difficulty remembering names and street addresses. After several years, these problems became more severe and six months ago, he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease, according to The Coshocton Times.
Doctors originally thought that the symptoms were stress-related. Phelps has worked two jobs for most of his life, as an EMS respondent and security guard for different law enforcement agencies.
Now, the disease has forced him into an early retirement.
Phelps' wife, Phyllis, is also one of his concerns. He doesn't like to think about what a weight Alzheimer's care will have on her and has started trying to promote awareness for caregivers.
"I want to stress, it's not about me. I think people understand I don't want the limelight on me - I want to bring it out the forefront. It's not that I have the disease, but the people it's going to affect in the future," he told the news provider.
The Alzheimer's Association estimates that there are currently 5.3 million Americans suffering from the disease and at least 10.9 million unpaid caregivers assisting them. That number is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years due to the country's aging population.