Dos Voces, Un Destino: La historia de dos hermanas cuidando sus padres
Hola Mami, ¿como esta? La llamada era rutina.
CuÃ¡ndo nuestros padres se retiraron hace 31 aÃ±os se regresaron a El Salvador, el paÃs donde nacieron. AllÃ podÃan vivir viene de sus penciones. Nuestros padres viajaban mucho entre Los Estados Unidos y El Salvador, pasando mÃ¡s o menos mitad del aÃ±o aquÃ. Nosotros, sus hijas, Silvia y Linda vivimos en Norte California. Nuestros hogares estÃ¡n como 90 millas de distancia.
Silvia la hija major, naciÃ³ en El Salvador pero ha vivido en Los Estados Unidos desde niÃ±a. Ahora, vive en el Este Ã¡rea de la BahÃa de San Francisco con su esposo. Tiene tres hijas y tres nietos que viven cerca. Linda la hija de en medio, naciÃ³ en San Francico y vive al Este de Sacramento, con su esposo. Su hijo vive en Arroyo Grande. Nuestro hermano Victor muriÃ³ en 2003. Esto fue muy duro para nuestra mama, causando una deprecaciÃ³n severa.
El aÃ±o que cambio todo fue el 2009. Linda hiso cuatro viajes a El Salvador este aÃ±o. Papa tenÃa 89 y mamÃ¡ 78 aÃ±os. Nuestros padres ya no podÃan viajar solos y Linda hacia el viaje entre los Estados Unidos y El Salvador con ellos. Empezamos a notar que ya no se podÃan cuidar ellos solos. Los dos son diabÃ©ticos, pero papÃ¡ depende de insulina. Se les olvidaba tomar las medicinas que el doctor les receto no se las tomaban.
Los dos todavÃa querrÃan ser independientes, nuestra soluciÃ³n era buscar familia que podrÃa vivir con ellos para asegurarnos que se tomaran sus medicinas y ponerle ha papÃ¡ su insulina. Una sobrina empezÃ³ a vivir con ellos. Pasamos unos meses asÃ pero entre poco habÃan dÃas que no llegaba y la diabetes de papÃ¡ se descontrolo.
En un viaje, Linda busco una enfermera que llegara y una seÃ±ora que les cocinara y limpiar la casa. La enfermera no llego y entre tiempo la cocinera se empezÃ³ tomar ventaja de nuestros padres. Una vez que llamo Silvia a la casa, mi mamÃ¡ le conto que no habÃan comido. Pero a un asÃ la cocinera les habÃa pedido dinero para que su hija fuera a comprar hamburguesas para ella y unas compaÃ±eras. Pero a ellos no les ofrecieron nada de comer.
En otro viaje, Linda se dio cuenta que le faltaban $20,000.00 dÃ³lares de la cuenta de banco. Cuando le pregunto a papÃ¡ que havÃa hecho con el dinero, Ã©l le dijo que no habÃa sacado $20,000.00, y en viendo su cuenta Ã©l tenÃa una rutina de sacar $2,000.00. Pensamos que alguien le puso un cerro mÃ¡s al retiro. El banco no se hiso cargo y cuando les pregunte a mi tÃo que los llevaba al banco se ofendiÃ³. Sacamos todo el dinero del banco y les enviÃ¡bamos dinero solo para sus gastos y comida, ha encargo de un TÃo.
En Enero de 2010 Linda recibiÃ³ una nota electrÃ³nica de un primo. “Linda tienes que venir a El Salvador. EncontrÃ© a TÃa Irma perdida en la calle y la lleve a su casa. Pienso que lo mejor es que se la lleves a Los Estados Unidos.”
Linda llamo a su hermana, Silvia. Las dos decidimos viajar a El Salvador sin decirle a nadie. Cuando llegamos, era hora de desayuno. El refrigerador y los cabinetes no tenÃan nada de comida. Todos estaban bacillos. En este viaje los traemos de regreso a Los Estados Unidos del todo.
Cada mes les vamos contar mÃ¡s de nuestra historia. Las celebraciones y atrasos de cuidar una madre con Alzheimer ‘s y un padre con Parkinson’s.
Two Voices, One Destiny: The story of two sisters caring for their parents
Hi Mom. How are you? The call was routine.
When our parents retired 31 years ago, they made the decision to spend more time in their native country, El Salvador. The decision was based on maximizing their retirement fund and having a better quality of life. They traveled frequently between El Salvador and the U.S., spending about six months out of the year in each country. We are their daughters, Silvia and Linda. We live in Northern California about 90 miles away from one another.
Silvia is the eldest daughter. She lives in the S. F. Bay Area – East Bay, with her husband. They have three daughters and three grandchildren who all live nearby. Linda is the middle daughter. She resides 20 miles east of Sacramento, with her husband. Their son lives in Arroyo Grande, on California’s central coast. Our brother, Victor passed away in 2003. The death of our brother was very hard on our mother, causing her to enter into a deep depression.
2009 was the year in which everything changed. I, Linda, made four trips to El Salvador this year. Dad was now 89 and mom was 78. Our parents could no longer travel by themselves and needed help. I would normally accompany them on their trips between El Salvador and the U.S., usually two trips a year. This year was different. We had started to notice they couldn’t care for themselves. Both of our parents are diabetic; Dad is insulin dependent. In addition, they both have several prescriptions which they take daily. On one of these trips, I noticed our parents would forget to take their medication. There were stock piles of prescription bottles stuffed in drawers.
Helping our parents would not be easy. They insisted on having their independence. Our solution, find a family member which could live with them and administer their medication. Our extended family is large; we could surely find a family member willing to live with them for free room and board. Soon, one of my dad’s grandnieces was living with them. This worked well for a few months but then she stopped staying with them and did not tell anyone. My father’s diabetes got out of control.
On the next trip, I had the goals of hiring a nurse to come each day and a housekeeper to cook and clean for them. A nurse was hired but ended up not showing up for work. The housekeeper did come to work, but over time started to take advantage of them. One day, Silvia called my parent’s and spoke with mom. Mom shared they had not eaten. The housekeeper had asked them for money for her daughter and her friends to go buy some hamburgers. They came back with the food but didn’t give them anything to eat.
On another trip, I took Dad to the bank. I had done this on many occasions. Dad had a practice of taking $2,000 out of his account for their expenses. I noticed a large withdrawal of $20,000. I asked Dad why he took such a large sum of money out of the account. Dad said he had not made a withdrawal of $20,000. In discussing with Silvia, we suspected an additional zero was added to the withdrawal slip. When I asked the bank to investigate the transaction, they produced a withdrawal slip with Dad’s signature. The bank took no responsibility for providing an elderly man, who could no longer see well enough to fill-out his own withdrawal slip, such a large sum of cash. In addition, I asked an uncle who would take dad to the bank about the withdrawal. This conversation did not end well. My uncle was highly offended that I would ask him about the transaction. My sister and I decided to withdraw almost all of our parents’ money from the bank accounts. I opened up a separate account, setting up automatic payments for all of their utilities to get paid. There was only one small challenge: providing our parents with grocery and spending cash. We decided to send money to an uncle which would take them grocery shopping each week.
In January of 2010 Linda received an email from a cousin. It stated: Linda, you need to come to El Salvador. I found Aunt Irma downtown unable to find her way home. I picked her up and took her home. I think you need to take them back with you before something happens.
I called my sister. We decided to go to El Salvador and not tell anyone. We would just show up and see what was really going on.
A few days later we boarded a plane for El Salvador, taking a red-eye. After a short taxi ride we arrived at our parents’ house. It was breakfast time. We knocked on the door and were welcomed in. My uncle, his family and our parents greeted us. A few minutes later I made my way to the kitchen. I opened up the refrigerator and pantry. They were empty. On this trip we decided to bring our parents back home with us.
Each month we’ll bring you more of our story. The moment of celebration, as well as, the set- backs of caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s and a father with Parkinson’s disease.
Aug 2010 – Our Family
Bruce, Adam, Kristen, Silvia, Jenina, Melissa, Mom (Irma), Linda, Patricio, Vanessa, and Dad (Victorino).