Need help with pruning azaleas with some sort of disease
I am new to gardening and have a problem. We bought an older home in November of 2007 and we have been trying to cut back overgrown bushes and trees. I am having a problem figuring out what to do about some overgrown azaleas. I am not sure what kind they are, but they are just now starting to bloom. The previous owner told me that they bloom in late May to early June and they stay bloomed for a very long time, so they are unlike the typical early spring blooming azaleas that have already lost their blooms. There are probably about 5 or 6 of them along the front wall of the house. I am not sure exactly how many there are because they have all grown together and look like one big, long bush. They are so tall they cover half of the window. They are all covered in leaves except the one on the very end. Half of it looks dead and only has about 1/3 of it covered in leaves, but has some blooms on it too. Another problem with them is that I was told they have spider mites. I am not sure how badly affected with it they are though. I am also not sure how to treat that now because the bushes are so big and there are so many of them. There are also some of the leaves, (or maybe it is the blooms, not sure which), that are turning white, very thick, and curling. I am not sure what this is, but I assume it is some sort of disease. The entire plant isn't covered with these white thick growths though. Out of these 5 huge bushes, there are maybe 10 leaves on each bush affected by it. I want to cut these bushes back to just below the window and I want to get rid of whatever disease or bug is affecting it, but I am not sure when or what to do.
Any advice about my problems will be greatly appreciated.