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 An Interview with Hector Elizondo (Page 2 of 3)

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An Interview with Hector Elizondo


HE:  My father did.  He had a nervous breakdown and his immune system went south, and that was it. Otherwise, a very healthy man all his life, but he smoked two packs a day; but back then everybody did.  He came from that generation.  He reached out for help in the late stages when he started deteriorating physically to a point where he just couldnít do it anymore.

GB:  What would you suggest to family members now, when their loved ones are diagnosed with Alzheimerís, or they suspect Alzheimerís?

HE:  First of all, thereís a possibility, or more than a possibility of being diagnosed. We really didnít get a real diagnosis.  No one said this is what you have and this is what is going to happen; and itís a collective effort.  You have to make these efforts as a family; try not to lose patience with Mom.  Sheís going to ask the same question within five minutes. She may start losing her memory entirely.  She may become incontinent.  The list goes on and on.  No one said that to us. So, thatís why I feel so strongly about it.

GB:  I know you lived close to your parents at some point during this.  Did your dad accept your help at all?

HE:  He accepted mine.  He accepted help from the family, reluctantly.  At one time, I even took my mother away.  I was working and I said ďDad, I want to take her with me.Ē  It was a situation where I would have someone look after her.  I made that arrangement.  That didnít last and I said, ďOkay Dad, you go away, take a break of two weeks. Two weeks is good; thatís it, donít worry about it.  I can handle this.Ē  I was much younger, you know; I had the strength and resiliency to do that.  It didnít go very well.  He returned after a few days, maybe four or five days; thatís it, he was back, couldnít take it.  It was his responsibility and he was going to put a shoulder to the wheel; meanwhile, he was falling apart.

GB:  What would you like to see for families in this same situation that you found yours in?

HE: Early diagnosis, more information; for example, thereís a wonderful website that they can dial up easy:  Thatís an example of information, a conduit to all sorts of information, help, resources, institutions, and so on; and even practical information for a caregiver, what to do under these circumstances.

GB:  As you go around and people are learning about your familyís story, are caregivers sharing their stories with you? 

HE:  Oh yes, oh yes; itís a tsunami of information.  Itís a tsunami of sharing.  They can hardly wait.  Yes, of course. We were at a forum in San Francisco talking, the heads were nodding; they all had direct experiences with that.  Itís a terrible thing.  But it doesnít have to be today.  Thatís the wonderful thing.  If my father had been around today, it would have been a different story.


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