It''s a staggering number -- 55,000 western New Yorkers have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or Dementia. What many may not realize is that the disease can be very lonely.
A video has gone viral on Facebook, in which a wife and her husband with Alzheimer's are seen pleading with his friends to come and visit.
"I'm the same old person, and I wish that people -- that all of my friends would come and talk to me, just like we did before and hang out," the man said. "I know they're afraid of me."
David Gonlag, a Buffalo man with early stage Dementia, has this piece of advice to those with a loved one with the conditions -- "be there for them."
Gonlag said he is lucky to have a strong support system of family, friends and co-workers, but knows others whose loved ones have seemingly forgotten them.
He also knows a few who don't speak to him the same. "They would talk to (my wife) Donna and almost like I wasn't there," Gonlag said.
Gonlag wants to break the stigma, and explains that being with loved ones is important. "That makes each day more important, so it's just a matter of living your life as you would anyway."
Donna Gonlag said friendship is important to the entire family. "When he doesn't know me, I don't know how that's going to be, and I'm going to need somebody to talk to. I'm going to need somebody to lean on," she explained.
Alzheimer's Association Program Director, Rachel Rotach, said that, "It's important to stay active. You should do as much of the activities as much of the activities as you enjoy and things that you previously did. So if you're that friend and you're unsure what to do, we would ask you, what would you used to do with them?"
Gonlag said that sometimes he worries about the future of his friendships. "You always feel as it progresses, are they going to be able to handle it? That's one of the reasons I thought it was important at this stage to let as many people know as you can."
Those with questions about Alzheimer's or Dementia can call the 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900.