SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- ABC7 News proudly sponsors A Walk to End Alzheimer's in two Bay Area communities, emphasizing the profound impacts of Alzheimer's disease. Alarmingly, older Hispanic Americans face a one-and-a-half times greater likelihood of a dementia diagnosis than their older white peers, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Rosa Alonso from San Jose offers a personal glimpse into the brutal reality of this disease through her mother's journey.
Rosa fondly recalls moments in the San Jose rose garden, a cherished spot for both her and Maria.
"My mom loves the flowers," Rosa said, reminiscing about their bond and childhood moments in Mexico.
Maria, always the pillar of strength and independence, had a profound love for her family and singing.
"She had a favorite song. It was Angelos de mis Anhelos. That was her favorite song," Rosa said, adding, "I remember all the time she used to sing that song." Even when dementia began to obscure her memories, making her forget loved ones and past events, Maria clung to the lyrics of her favorite song.
Despite the grim reality, Maria's deteriorating condition wasn't immediately concerning. Rosa began noticing signs of the ailment years prior to Maria's official Alzheimer's diagnosis in 2014.
Though older Hispanic Americans are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than older white Americans, Rosa said it's a reality her community is often reluctant to accept.
"Sometimes, especially as the Latino community, we don't want to say that somebody has Alzheimer's. We'll just say 'Oh, they're forgetful,'" Rosa said.
Rosa's mother would be in and out of nursing homes for several years. But after falling a third time while at a care facility, Rosa brought her mother Maria home and became her primary caretaker, putting her job as a tax preparer on hold.
"That was really depressing. Really sad. It's just hard," Rosa said.
In the midst of her struggles, the San Jose chapter of the Alzheimer's Association provided a lifeline.
Sandra Green, a representative from the Association, empathized with Rosa's plight.
"Caregivers feel abandoned. They need help," she said.
Commenting on Rosa's initial visit, Sandra recalled, "When she came in. She was one of the caregivers that was crying because she told me 'I didn't know about this disease.' This is a 24/7 care and a lot of caregivers don't have a break."
The Alzheimer's Association helped Rosa find caretakers to step in so she could get a break -- and support groups to help her process the loss of her mother Maria earlier this year.
"We used to meet and everybody talk about their experiences with their loved ones with Alzheimer's. And sometimes I thought, 'Oh, I don't have it that hard.'"
Rosa's advice for others in similar situations is a plea for help and community support.
"Try to get help, because there are support groups that can help you," she said.
ABC7 News is a proud sponsor. Join News Anchor Dan Ashely this Saturday, Oct. 28 for the Walk to End Alzheimer's.
The event starts at Bishop Ranch in San Jose at 10 a.m. Registration is free at www.ALZ.org.
If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live