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 An Interview with Hector Elizondo (Page 1 of 3)

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An Interview with Hector Elizondo


Gary Barg:  What were the first signs of your mother’s Alzheimer’s disease? 

Hector Elizondo:  The first signs of her illness were very subtle; just forgetfulness, the usual stuff, the shopping list, the keys, and then a pattern started to emerge.  Realizing that now in retrospect, back then it was, “Oh Mom, please, you asked that question before, you know, a half hour ago.” But the first real red flag was when she lost her way in her neighborhood.

GB:  They used to call Alzheimer’s pre-senile dementia. 

HE:  That’s what she was diagnosed with.  She was diagnosed with pre-senile dementia.  We had no idea what the heck it meant, quite frankly, we had no idea what she had.  No one had any idea about anything and my father, of course, was the primary caregiver. He’s the one who took the brunt of the 24/7 care. You can imagine, especially in the Latino culture, you take care of your own; you don’t go outside of it.  And that’s not uncommon for many other cultures except in the contiguous United States perhaps; you just took care of your own.  There was no thought of doing it otherwise; but again, there was no thought of doing it otherwise because we had no other options.  We had no information.  There are many aspects of culture that make that up.  My father would say, “This is something I’ve done.”  “I’m being paid back.”

GB:  He blamed himself.

HE:  Yes, of course, oh yes. “It must have been something I’ve done.  Why is this happening?”  And I always thought living the life isn’t enough?  Isn’t that hard enough?  I mean, someone has to impose this punishment on you?

GB:  Where did he reach out?  According to a Stanford University study a few years ago, 40 percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers pass away before their loved ones do.


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