By: Ashley Vincenty
Antonia Cappas, 68, is a healthy looking elderly that loves to dance, sing, make jokes, but most of all: live life. Judith, as everyone who knows her calls her, started showing symptoms of Alzheimer in 2009. She, however, does not know because she does not remember being diagnosed; but when she recognizes something is off she says “Oh my God, I’m forgetting things!”
Elsie “Elsita” Cabrera, Judith’s niece, is the person in charge of taking care of her. Her mother, Judith’s sister, was also diagnosed with Alzheimer. “I know how to handle Judith because my mother is going through the same thing, and I don’t mind the responsibility.”
Elsita tends to Judith’s every need, no matter how basic. When her aunt would go and take a shower, she wouldn’t be more than three minutes; sometimes she wouldn’t even bathe. “I have to tell her to get in the shower and supervise, because if I don’t, she won’t clean herself correctly.”
Judith even forgets things like shaving, for example. When Elsita noticed this, she began to look for razors, and did not mind doing it for her. “Everything I do is because I want to do it, and everything I do, I do with love.”
Elsita also does her aunt’s hair and makeup to make her look beautiful everyday. Before Judith had Alzheimer, she would dress up elegantly and to her best. “I always leave with her looking great so that she feels good about herself.”
Elsie Cabrera makes sure that her aunt stays healthy by cooking for her and managing her diet. Judith used to be excellent in the kitchen, but pitifully she lost her cooking skills as well. “This woman right here, she would do quite a plate, and now I give back by cooking for her.”
There are pharmaceuticals that treat Alzheimer by slowing down its progress. Elsita began to give Judith these drugs with faith that it would somehow better her aunt’s condition. “I know that there is no cure for this disease, but its always good to maintain a little hope for those who we cherish, no matter how difficult the situation.”
Alzheimer not only makes its victims forget things, it also develops a sense of paranoia. Judith began to put her outdoor chairs inside her house because she said people would steal them if she didn’t do this. Sometimes she would even place them in the form of a barrier for protection.
Judith often goes to her balcony to reflect on life. She didn’t use to do this very much before she had Alzheimer. This disease warps the mind in ways that end up changing the personality of a person completely, and sadly someday Judith may not be the Judith we have come to know.
Antonia “Judith” Cappas is my grandmother. It was not easy finding out that she had Alzheimer because this meant that one day she will not recognize me. Nevertheless, with these patients it is better to focus on the now and not on tomorrow so that one can cherish every moment with the patient, and even though he or she will not remember, you will.