Ana joined the Bronx Senior Photo League classes at Castle Hill Senior Center in March 2019. Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Ana was not able to continue the remote photography classes online and over the phone. The photos and artist statement below were taken before COVID-19 hit New York City. Ana began a photography project that focused on her family's battle with Alzheimer's in the fall of 2019.
Alzheimer’s and Its Many Changing Faces
Today it is common to know of someone with Alzheimer's or someone affected by Alzheimer's. Here are a few faces of Alzheimer’s that unfortunately have affected my family.
Felicity – My aunt, has had Alzheimer going on 20 years. She is the mother of 7 children. She was the backbone of her family as a housewife, managing the bills and doing all for her husband and children. Slowly she has reverted to a vegetative state where she cannot speak, hardly moves and depends on her children and others for her care.
Alina – My mother-in-law. The matriarch of my husband’s family. This was a woman not to be recon with. She was a strong willed, independent and smart. As a single mother of 4, she relocated her family from Puerto Rico to NYC. Although she was about 5 ft, she stood a lot taller. It was difficult to see the light in her eye start to dim. She was luckier than most as she had 3 daughters and 2 granddaughters help care for her. Everyone took one night to help with the night care and alternated weekends. It truly was a family affair.
Alicia – My sister-in-law. Alicia because the matriarch of the family once Alina passed. She relocated to Puerto Rico a few years after her mother passed away. Unfortunately, this accountant, mother of 2 (one being born with Spina Bifida, which brings challenges of its own), home and property owner would not escape this evil disease. It was noticed that she was repeating herself and not doing or remembering certain routines. Her children decided it was time to bring mom and dad back to NY. She presently lives with her daughter and husband. With the help of medicine and close monitoring, her Alzheimer isn’t moving as fast. She can hold a conversation and remember parts of the conversation. As with any kind of illness, she has her good days and her not so good days.
America – My sister-in-law, Alicia’s little sister. Although we noticed her repeating herself and asking questions to things, we knew she should know, we were on alert. America never married nor had children. She was a secretary for the Federal Government, traveled the world and her last job was for the NY Department Of Aging. Her Alzheimer has been more advanced that her sister Alicia, who has had it longer. America has had added complication to her health. She was having heart issues which led to a pacemaker being placed. The lack of oxygen to her brain has made her Alzheimer worse. Now she is living with her other sister. America is a difficult case. She has lived alone for over 40 yrs. to now live with her sister. She constantly fights to go home and is always defensive so it’s not easy trying to get her to do things, like cutting her nails or hair or even taking a shower.
Alzheimer affects everyone different at different stages of their lives. It’s a disease that does not discriminate. It can test your patience, your sanity even your love for the person because there are times you just want to run screaming and yelling and not turn back. It takes a village to raise a child, it takes that same village to care for an Alzheimer’s patient so they can finish life with the same dignity they had during the years in between.