Uberlinda Godoy Santana, 94, has Alzheimer’s, a condition that causes a gradual decline in memory, thinking, behavior and social skills. Today he is a dependent and his daughter Consuelo Godoy Godoy has been a fundamental support.
Consuelo has been a caregiver since August 2022, but it started years ago. In 2018, he realized that something was wrong with him. “I was knocking on a lot of doors and that year we entered the Punta Arenas Te Cuida program, a tremendous team and they’ve been excellent, they come every week and give them good care,” he recalls.
Betty states that Uberlinda was always a healthy person and only went to the hospital four times in her life. “My mother eats all food without salt, eats lots of vegetables and drinks lots of water. My mother doesn’t have cholesterol or high blood pressure problem, she has just done a lot of tests. They all turned out well,” he says.
She remembers that her mother started having headaches and there she had a scan, and the doctor told her that she had already had a cerebral infarction. “He told me: ‘There are some little lights that are going out’, and suggested we refer her to a specialist and that’s when the dementia started,” she recalls.
Uberlinda was an active woman, as she cooked and took care of all the household chores, but she suddenly developed a series of complications. “We asked him if he was feeling well. Then she stood still and told me ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me’. Like it happens many times now when he realizes it and now my heart aches and I don’t know what to say to him”.
“I don’t see it as being a caregiver, because I give my life for my mother, but it is painful when you see your mother forget that she is alive and forget to eat or go to the bathroom. I know it goes further. The doctor told me that ‘later he will forget to breathe, and that’s where we’re going to intervene,'” he adds.
So as a family they want to give her special moments, so they take her out for coffee or a walk, celebrate with costumes and do everything possible to make her happy. Consuelo said that “Thank God they helped me a lot, I hit the jackpot with my daughters and my granddaughters who help me and we have surrounded them with love.”
“Sometimes he wakes up at three in the morning and tells me ‘Let’s go have lunch.’ And what do I do? I get up from here, we drink tea and we start talking. The second time he gets up and starts calling me and crying, he tells me ‘I’m scared ‘. The other day she said ‘I miss my mom’ and her mom died when she was 8… I don’t get angry with her because she did so much for me, she gave me good studies. She never let me go and neither did I, sometimes it takes us two hours but we come and all I ask is she has a life… I always said ‘I can’t imagine life without my mother’ Can’t’, but once he didn’t miss me, I let him go and I said it’s the law of life ‘and as long as he’s alive, we have to fill him with love, let him live as long as possible”. she thinks.
“Ube” herself told them that when she dies, she doesn’t want anyone to cry, she wants Rang, she wants Batucada and she wants Ranchera.
Consuelo states that she has spoken with many caregivers who admit that they do not know how to react and what to do when something happens to them. For example, first aid, and things that should be at hand in any situation.
Another issue that is important to Consuelo is being able to obtain a license to be a caregiver in order to be able to devote himself to caregiving, and that is that they cannot be left alone. For her, it is essential to have economic security to be able to provide care.
battle to remember
Consuelo loves photography and in a pandemic, the idea came to take family pictures so that her mother would not forget about them. “He was in a pandemonium. One day I asked a friend of mine to take pictures of us in the middle of Costanera when no one could go out and I told my family that they should all go. Everyone arrived at 9am with ‘tuto’ faces on and we took pictures. The whole family is there and we take my mother with a blanket and everything. So, the girls ask him where are you? Who am I? What is my name?