A well-known Winnipeg business owner is giving up her career to care for her ailing husband.

For the past 25 years, Carol Labelle has owned and operated Labelle’s Bridal Boutique on Graham Avenue.

But now, the business will have to close so Labelle can focus on her husband and partner of 46 years.

Labelle’s husband Dave has frontotemporal dementia, a disease with symptoms very similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

“We live together, but he’s not my husband anymore,” she said. “He’s more like my son.”

Labelle said she made the decision to close her shop last week, when her husband was home alone and became confused.

“The other day he cooked Greek yogurt instead of having the sandwiches that I put out for him,” she said. “It’s things like that that I’m starting to worry about.”

Labelle said balancing being a caregiver and working has become exhausting.

“When I get home from work, I’m tired and stressed, and then I go in and he’s happy and jumping around and squealing and whistling and I’m just like, ‘Ugh. I can’t deal with it,’” she said.

While Dave is still able to spend some time on his own, Labelle said those time periods are becoming smaller and smaller, and there are few supports to help her manage caregiving.

“I’ve got home care helping a bit, but the rest of the time he’s on his own, and I don’t think he should be too much longer,” she said. “I know it’s time.”

Labelle’s situation isn’t unique. Over 20,000 Manitobans have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, and the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba reports millions of hours have been spent on unpaid care in the province.

“For every person with the disease, there’s typically close to 10 other people that are very directly involved in their care and therefore are living the journey with the person with dementia,” explained Norma Kirkby, the program director for the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba.

The society has organized a conference in November to help address the needs of Manitoba caregivers. The conference, dubbed, CARE4U, will offer supports and education for caregivers like Labelle.

“Sadly, as the disease progresses, people start to have a decline of skill and decline of ability and even though you try and promote their strengths, you find that you need to assist more and more,” said Kirkby.

For now, Labelle is trying to sell off the rest of her inventory before she closes up her business for good to become a full time caregiver.