Martha Diaz, a 63 year-old Boyle Heights, CA native, has faced many challenges since her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2004. Her mother had a sharp mind until the symptoms of Alzheimer's gradually impaired her cognitive abilities. She became increasingly forgetful, wandered the streets, and left the stove or oven on unattended. She could no longer bathe or feed herself. Her mentality was diminished to the level of a three year old. Martha states, "I was forced to learn how to be a "mother" to my mother."
Martha explains, " I was married, had worked for the government for 29 years, my family was healthy, and most importantly, I was happy. I had to leave my old life behind and enter into unfamiliar and unchartered territory." Martha had to stop everything in her life in order to take care of her mother. She retired from her job to be a full-time caretaker. Her marriage and happiness suffered. She experienced feelings of anger, impatience, loneliness and depression. She said to herself, "Who is this person that I have become? I know this person was not I, Martha!" It was at this moment that she realized that something had to be done.
Martha became proactive in order to cope with her situation. She educated herself about Alzheimer's online and in books. She joined a local support group, ALGLA, Alzheimer's Greater Los Angeles. She became more informed and connected to other caregivers. She no longer felt alone.
Martha states her truth , " Education is the key, and yes, some days will be harder than others, but we are all in this together. " It is imperative to learn about the disease of the person you are caring for and to join a support group. The caregivers need to attend to themselves as well as their loved one.
Martha became a fitness instructor for seniors with Stronger Life, Inc. and also teaches independently at various sites. She takes her mother with her for the benefit of the classes and the social interactions,
Stronger Life, Inc provides the fitness training and nutritional guidance for seniors, the homebound and their caregivers. We come to you with the support you need.
Reference: The Eastsider by Martha Diaz
STRONGER LIFE, INC., is a non-profit corporation, organized exclusively for educational, scientific and charitable purposes.
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