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Marta's Story

 I've been married to Arturo for 52 years.  Ever since I married him, I've devoted myself to taking care of my family.  We had four incredible children: Arturito, Mario, Angela and Dora. All of them are married and have given us ten grandchildren who we adore, and recently we became great-grandparents when Dorita had twins.  


Two years ago I began to notice that Arturo would begin to shave himself in the morning and stop when he was half-way done.  When I would ask him why he didn't finish shaving himself, he would react with surprise, but said that he was distracted when he had heard something on the television, and would then go to the bathroom to finish shaving. Some mornings when our grandson Pablito came to the house, Arturo would forget Pablito's name. And some days he would be very confused and think that Pablito was his son Mario.  Since Arturo was 79 years old at the time, I thought that old age was already affecting his memory.  However, as the months went by, I saw things that were happening that never happened before.  Arturo has always been very responsible with our finances and always paid the electricity, gas and cable bills on time.  About two years ago, I began to notice that he would leave the bills on the night table without even opening the envelopes.  Later we would receive letters saying that we hadn't paid the bills. 


Arturo also used to walk to the corner to buy the newspaper or whatever he needed.  Several times, he took longer than usual and I became worried.  When I asked him what had happened, he said that he was distracted by something, but a neighbor told me that she had found him sitting in a park near the house and that he seemed to be disoriented.   I was worried, but I continued to think that it was because he was getting old.  My sons and daughters began to worry when I told them what was happening and they told me that they too had noticed changes in their father.  They said: "He's not himself."


When it was time for Arturo to go to the doctor for his annual physical exam, I went with him and we spoke to his doctor.  The doctor referred him to a psychologist who confirmed that Arturo had Alzheimer's disease, based on the tests that he administered and on the things that were happening:

* Arturo was forgetting how to do everyday things such as shaving himself, he was confused and did not recognize his relatives

* he had no interest in paying the bills on time and sometimes he said that he was proud about it

* he didn't remember how to go back home

* he was not aware of what was going on around him and at times he had problems recognizing his children and grandchildren.


Asking for help was hard at first. I wanted my children to believe their father was fine!

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