Liz Hernandez shares her experience with Alzheimer's

Liz Hernandez shares her experience with Alzheimer's

Foto: Edelman

Alzhemier’s disease taking away people’s ability to remember is commonly known but did you know that Hispanics are at higher risks, one and one-half times as likely, to be exact. Liz Hernandez from Access Hollywood is sharing her experience with Alzheimer’s after her mother was diagnosed with the disease. Hernandez is collaborating with the Alzheimer’s Association to talk about her personal experience and also bring awareness about a disease that can easily be misunderstood.  

Why is Alzheimer’s so significant in your life?

Liz Hernandez: It became so significant in my life because my mom was diagnosed two years ago and when it landed on my doorstep I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know anything about dementia or Alzheimer’s. I had to quickly learn, not only learn about the disease but also support my mom, support myself, and support my family with the emotional support you need when you go through this. 

What’s the message you want to get across to everyone working with the Alzheimer’s Association?

LH: If anything, what I’ve learned… Latinos run high on the ones that are developing Alzheimer’s later on in life and I think it’s very important to be aware of the signs for our parents but to now start taking better care of ourselves. It’s something we don’t think about because everyone’s so busy living their lives, it’s almost like we live in a society where we take pride in saying “I’m just so busy.” You have to slow down and ask yourself what’s important and that’s taking care of ourselves. It’s important to be educated, not only on Alzheimer’s but all the different diseases out there because once it lands on your doorstep, it’s shocking. I come from a line of healthy grandparents and a healthy family so for my mom to develop this was beyond shocking. It’s one of those things that you say “this happens to other people, this doesn’t happen to us,” so when it does you want to be prepared and you want to be able to have the best resources to help the people that you love. 

What would your best piece of advice for something who has a relative with Alzheimer’s?

LH: My biggest thing would be to first make sure you have a great support. I encourage other people to go out to events, speak to people that are specialized in it because when you don’t know about, it can seem very scary. They say ‘the more you know, the less fearful things become,’ and it’s true. The more people that I’ve met that are going through the same thing that I’m going through, you find comfort in that. I really encourage people who are going through this to be mindful of the person that is going through that [disease]. I always say my mom is still my mom and disease is a disease. You have to be really patient and compassionate of the person going through it— it’s not who are they are, it’s just the disease.

What are some of the healthy habits people can adapt to reduce the risks?

LH: Making sure you’re getting adequate sleep is a big part of it. Meditating, exercising, and eating brain foods, foods that are good for you.  We want to make sure that we are fueling our bodies with things that are high in nutrition. Having that quiet time, there’s that saying that you can drive yourself crazy and I feel that there’s a real link to that if we don’t slow down and really take time to take care of ourselves.

How did you educate yourself after your mother was diagnosed?

LH: I was actually very fortunate. It was one of those things that when it happened to me, you find out how many people have been impacted by this disease. I had people that stepped up right away and offered my books. I was going online and the Alzheimer’s Association website. I would definitely say the Alzheimer’s Association has been a great help, their website is very informative.  Just talking to people can be so helpful too— other families. 

As someone who has a lot on their plate, how do you manage being a caregiver and doing all that you do?

LH: Any free moment that I had, I had breakfast with her then I would leave her with care but I was there round the clock—breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If anything I’m still so grateful that I was able to be with her all the time because that was the time when she was aware and that I was her daughter and we were spending time. It makes you very compassionate, it makes you understand that it’s still my mom and I’m going to do whatever to take care of her. We created some awesome memories and she felt very loved and supported.

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