David Aparicio Fita

Alzheimer, the lost generation
Location: Girona
Nationality: Spain
Biography: I´am a Catalan photographer, originally from Girona, near Barcelona, shooting professionally since 2010 for editorial and advertising clients.Now I am a freelance Photojournalist, I worked in a newspaper Diari de Girona & El... read on
Public Story
Alzheimer, the lost generation
Copyright david aparicio fita 2021
Updated 03/02/21
At the end of their lives some people forget about their own existence. “The chest of memories” is an intimate and personal history about Alzheimer disease. We accompany Neus and Amadeu Costa with the camera. In their small house they nurse Amadeu’s mother who suffers from Alzheimer at an advanced stage.

During the government of President M. Rajoy, the discourse of economic improvement and attention to citizens was maintained repeatedly and persistently. However, the perception of the population is far from that discourse

According to a recently published study, one in ten healthcare cases in Spain dies today without having seen a penny from the State. The region of Catalonia, deprived of funds since 2012, is being particularly affected. Many people are completely alone.

Neus is 54 years old at the time of the interview and has a long history of fighting breast cancer. She was barely recovering from her first year of treatment after diagnosis when the news came that would shape her for the next few years of life. Emerita, the mother of her husband Amadeo, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Until then, this 80-year-old woman lived alone on her farm, in a small mountain town in Galicia, not far from the Atlantic coast. Carrying out the care she needs on the other side of the country was impossible, there were no other relatives available to take care of her, so they made the sad decision to change her home.

Amadeo emigrated, more than 30 years ago, from the impoverished region of Galicia where he was born. He did not see a future there for himself or for his children, according to him, for economic reasons, future opportunities and ideological creed. In his ideology, the advance that the young Spanish democracy had to contribute was developing too slowly in his native land. He was drawn to an economically stronger region as well as a sense of greater tolerance, as Catalonia felt, where he finally found a new home. The new language, Catalan, was also internalized very early, so that a colorful mix of languages, spoken alternately, soon emerged in the family home. Neus and Amadeo speak Galician with each other, with the children they speak Catalan and with friends and other family members indistinctly Galician, Catalan or Spanish. Nobody has a problem with this fact.

But for the family, home care quickly becomes a problem, despite all good intentions. You always have to be with your grandmother, she needs constant supervision, you only allow yourself to leave her alone for a short time at the beginning of her illness. Alzheimer's is a degenerative disease with a progressive advance in which the clock of the life of the affected person moves at a different rate from the rest. At times the hands move forward, others stop for long periods of time, others, on the other hand, move backwards, in a trip back in time to the past of those who suffer from the disease. This trip does not allow accompanying the body, nor does it allow companions. Mercilessly. The family feels it little by little, step by step. At first it was still possible to do activities with the grandmother, but as time goes by it becomes increasingly difficult to support the old woman on her way. Everything is more difficult for her, all vital skills are lost.

Above all, Amadeo, her son, suffers, because inevitably the moment comes when the mother no longer remembers that she has a child. "That is very difficult," says Amadeo. He has been trained in everything he could, he has attended different courses of care and attention to family members affected by Alzheimer's. No one is prepared to care for a person with dementia who needs 24-hour care. The correct fastening, the correct posture, the diaper change, everything has to be learned first. Much of the house must be adapted to the needs of the situation. "And that's just the practical part", says Amadeo, "the emotional component is much more difficult. After all, it is your mother who you have to change, take care of, clean, shower and accompany."

Like Neus and Amadeo, there are many families in Spain. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a small farm. In Germany they would call it an organic farm, since they are self-sufficient. That saves money, but it is also a lot of work, you cannot neglect the obligations of caring for plants and animals. Still they are lucky.

Emerita was diagnosed with the disease at a time when the crisis in Spain was just beginning. At that time, the Autonomous Community of Catalonia granted an assistance benefit of exactly € 450 per month. Then came the cuts. Emerita received only a grant of € 345 per month.
Starting in 2012, everything changed in Spain with the arrival of the “Crisis”. The consequences are described in a report from the "State Observatory of the Nursing Sector". According to the report, 38,000 people declared “dependents”, in need of care, died in 2016 with an officially confirmed right to care allowance without ever having received the benefit aid to which they were entitled. In Spain there are currently more than 300,000 people in need of assistance.


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