Consuelo and her husband Eduardo have been coming to the Forget Me Nots luncheons for two years. In 2007, after Consuelo began to exhibit some memory and cognitive issues, she received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia from a Neuropsychologist.
Because of this, and because both of their mothers suffered from Alzheimer’s, the Delgados began attending seminars about the disease, and initially they accepted the diagnosis. They connected with the Alzheimer’s Association, and Consuelo participated in counseling sessions with Suzette Binford. At the same time, as Eduardo began to read more extensively about Alzheimer’s, he realized that he was only seeing one consistent symptom of the illness in Consuelo–lack of personal initiative. Her activity level had declined, she quit driving, and she stopped painting – which was very concerning, because she is a portrait artist. Eduardo says, “She just sat down, uninterested, although the daily routines continued.”
Overall, Consuelo was going through a difficult period in her life. She lost one of her stepsons, had a traumatic experience being stranded at the Madrid Airport after her purse was robbed, and later lost her mother and a beloved family pet. In view of the absence of other Alzheimer’s symptoms and no change in her condition, Eduardo began to believe that her symptoms might be attributable to depression, with which she has had a longtime struggle. He began to approach her symptoms with daily encouragement, memory activities and patient persistence.
Eventually, Consuelo recovered–slowly but steadily– and returned to driving, painting and social activities. Although there are occasional instances of forgetfulness, this can be attributed to the nature of Chronic Depression. Consuelo has also returned to the lifelong passion she had not pursued since the onset of her symptoms—painting. She is an extremely talented artist who specializes in portraits.
Consuelo’s story is a lesson in how important it is to get an accurate diagnosis; there are other medical conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, and it’s important to help the physician to identify other possible causes. In addition to the standard physical exams and cognitive tests, providing the physician with a thorough family history, information about the person’s personal habits, other illnesses, traumatic events, and other life changes can be critical to an accurate diagnosis.
Here are some of Consuelo’s works:
Consuelo and Eduardo enjoy coming to the Forget-Me-Nots lunches and have made good friends in the group, so they continue to attend—to the delight of the rest of the members. Says Consuelo: “The Alzheimer’s Association has been essential in my recovery, the sessions with Suzette helped enormously to understand my condition, and we will continue to participate in the Monthly Lunch where we have made new friends and feel part of what, in essence, is an excellent Support Group.”