DENVER -- There are 69,000 Coloradans living with Alzheimer's disease and for caregivers, trying to help a loved one can be a scary and lonely road.
But 7Everyday Hero Linda Rankin is changing that.
"I feel so blessed to be part of this group," Rankin said.
Rankin is a co-facilitator for an Alzheimer's Association Colorado Chapter caregiver's support group.
"It's like extended family of people who are all having similar experiences with a loved one who has dementia," Rankin said.
Rankin lost her mom to Alzheimer's and found the support group helpful. Now, she continues to help with a group.
"I love being able to encourage someone else who is in a hard time," Rankin said.
It is not unusual for first timers to arrive to the group with a heavy heart but they quickly learn they are not alone, and learn to trust everyone in the group.
"When we come to the meetings we can be very open about our feelings. You don't have to mask them," said group member Pat Lamoe.
The members also learn to focus not solely on the person battling Alzheimer's but also their own well-being.
"One of the things we always talk about is what do we do for ourselves," said group member Mary Lynn Koepke.
The support groups also teach the care partners that it is fine to laugh, too.
Thanks to Rankin's leadership the support group encourages, teaches and empowers care partners.
"It's very educational and very supportive," said group member Matt Moore.
"It is a life saver, an absolute life saver," Lamoe added.
"That experience in being able to guide people through a disease like this is really priceless. I think Linda brings that steady hand and a great way of connecting people together," said Amelia Schafer of the Alzheimer's Association Colorado Chapter.
"I go home really, really happy after our groups because if one person learned one idea, one tidbit that they can take home and use in their life, it was worth my time," Rankin said.
To learn more about Alzheimer's Disease and what the Alzheimer's Association of Colorado has to offer go to www.alz.org/co.
Mitch Jelniker anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30 to 7 a.m. He also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on 7NEWS. Follow Mitch on Facebook and Twitter. Nominate a 7Everyday Hero here.