Gaspar Rosado, known by all as Gary, is 60 years old and in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s. I have been so fortunate to call him my husband for the past 33 years. Symptoms began appearing seven years ago when he was forgetful and misplacing items, so we eventually contacted a local neurologist. Gary underwent numerous tests that ruled out Alzheimer's and left us hanging. His cognitive abilities continued to decline for the next couple of years. He loved his job, but an impeccable job performance took a beating and left everyone frustrated. Out of desperation, we traveled to New York City, seeking another professional who provided more in-depth testing. After two appointments, we were given the devastating diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer's. Gary was 57 years old.
How can I describe who this amazing man has been to me? Gary is a proud Puerto Rican, who has a passion for dancing and loves to sing along to music from all decades. He is a gentleman, opening the car door for me, and he is a romantic, pulling me into his arms to dance to a love song. I remember a time we were driving when he stopped the car, asked me to get out and we danced on the sidewalk. This man was one of the most talented people you would ever want to meet. I will always treasure his paintings, drawings, and photography that cover our walls. His hand crafted jewelry, Ukrainian eggs, puppets, Halloween costumes, and piñatas were just a few of his talents. We were so proud of him returning to college in his forties and graduating with a two year degree in Graphic Design. My pride doubled when his original design won a contest for the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival when he created the Wizard of Oz theme. Gary still has the best sense of humor and is very affectionate. Every day, he makes me laugh and gives me kisses ,hugs, and head rubs.
How has this disease affected his life? He can no longer complete tasks without repeated prompts, like changing clothes, brushing teeth, and taking a shower. Confusion and anxiety are daily challenges. He cannot be left alone for long and he has lost the ability to entertain himself with the hobbies he had enjoyed. He is no longer able to create, make, build, draw, and paint. He is no longer my handyman who could fix anything. His short term memory has taken a serious beating. The circle of people he knows has become only long time friends and family, and it is shrinking. He knows his two beautiful daughters, who have been the center of his life. but to him, they are 18 years old when they are actually in their thirties. However, his circle expanded in September of 2021 when his dream of becoming a grandfather became a reality!
How has this disease impacted my life? I retired last year at the age of 55. I loved my job, which had been fulfilling for 30 years. But I want to devote the time that I have left with Gary. I walk a fine line between treating a grown man with dignity while in reality it is like taking care of a child. Three years ago we took our magical trip to Italy, celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary, but Gary has no recollection of our trip. I miss my romantic partner on special days of the year. I am grateful for the people who help him pick out gifts and cards, but it does not repair my broken heart. I will spend extra time in the kitchen, making his favorite Puerto Rican dishes even though five minutes later, he forgot what he has eaten. I miss having an equal partner who used to help me maintain the household, which now falls solely on my shoulders. One of the hardest parts is knowing that, as this disease progresses, we will continue to face more challenges. Supporting our daughters during their own grieving process breaks my heart. With every joyous feeling follows sadness because we do not want the good times to end.
Has anything good come from this journey? Absolutely! Most importantly, Gary is living at home with the help of amazing caregivers who enjoy spending time with him. They start each day with an exercise routine and then take him on scenic walks, fishing, and other activities to stimulate his brain. This gives me respite to handle my responsibilities. Gary has several health conditions, including heart disease from two heart attacks, yet today he is in the best of health because he cannot drive to the store and buy junk food and cigarettes. He has been smoke free for over one year! Gary is also at peace because any anger from his childhood has faded. Finally, I am blessed with the support and love from friends, family, and caregivers.
Please consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of Gary. Your contribution will raise awareness, support local families with services like respite, and fund the research that will someday discover a cure. I invite you to check out my individual page under Debbie Rosado to claim your free donation gift that Gary helped make. And finally, please click on our daughter Gabriela Rosado’s Tik Tok link below to view the incredible videos she has made of Gary in the past year. Link to Gabriela Rosado's TikTok page They will make you laugh and cry. The money made from the number of “views” of her videos will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. I thank you for taking the time to read about Gary and our journey. With gratitude, Debbie and Team Gary
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