How would you feel if you lost a little piece of your father every day? What if you were able to visit your father, but you knew he really wasn’t there? I’ve been living this nightmare for ten years. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2009 when he was just 61 years old and it has been a long and challenging journey. I’ve been grieving slowly for the past 10 years not knowing when it will be my father’s last day here on earth. Not only has this disease changed my father, but it has also affected me and my family. It has required us to step in as caregivers and take on the tasks of daily caregiving and decision making to provide the best care for my father.
Prior to the diagnosis, my father was a kind, humble, loving, generous, responsible, and hardworking man who instilled in his three daughters the importance of education. My father, an immigrant from Mexico came to the U.S. at the young age of 17 and worked his way up to become an evening manager at an iconic Beverly Hills restaurant. Through my father’s example of strength, leadership and hard work, he inspired and encouraged his three daughters to pursue a college education and obtain master’s degrees.
My family and I got involved with Alzheimer’s LA because we needed the support in navigating this terrible disease and we knew we couldn’t do it alone. Alzheimer’s LA provided my family and I with resources, support and a Care Counselor who checked in on us regularly. Because of our involvement with Alzheimer’s LA, we recently had the opportunity to share our story on ABC7 Vista LA as a way to provide help to other families who are also facing this difficult and challenging journey. My daughter recently started volunteering at Alzheimer’s LA as a tribute to her grandfather and believes in the importance of advocating the need for education, especially to the younger generation.
Despite my father’s illness, I believe his is truly a miracle case. There are some rare, but precious times when he is still with me: recognizes my face; laughs at some of my jokes; lights up when he sees his grandchildren and smiles when listening to a song. I hold on to these moments because I don’t know what the next day may bring. The power of love is incredible, and my family and I have borne witness to what unconditional love can do, even with this terrible disease that has no cure. It has brought me some comfort knowing that my family and I have done everything in our power to give our father the best quality of life. Through resources like Alzheimer’s LA, we know that we are not alone and that there is help. We continue to revisit the old memories and play his favorite songs for music is something that has remained alive in my father. He has always been there for his family, and I believe there is a reason he is still with us. He continues to fight for his life, so I must continue to fight and be there for him. I know he would have done the same.