The Pueblos Jovenes are not an easy place to make ends meet. Residents face long commutes to work and markets, and a long trip up the hills to their homes. The cost of water is many times higher than in the US, and of course, residents earn a fraction of the US minimum wage.
Yet at the age of 73, Javier Sotero was still able to continue his work as a painter and live alone. Until one day, when he was working with some wall tile, he cut his finger.
Yes, there was blood. He was surprised, the cut rattled his nerves. He was shaking a bit afterwards- but that was it. He didn’t think much of it. He didn’t go to a doctor. It was just a cut.
The thing was, his nerves never steadied. His hands didn’t stop shaking; they started shaking more.
Flash forward three years to the age of 76, Javier cannot work, and he cannot live alone.
He lives in his son’s home, with only the many cats that reside there to keep him company while his son is at work. He hardly ever leaves the small one-room building.
Parkinson’s disease has radically altered his life; he can no longer care for himself. His son must care for him, as well as find the money to pay for expensive medication to help control and slow the advance of the disease.
He walks slowly, with the rigidity and stooped posture typical of the disease. His hands perpetually shook as he answered the MEDLIFE nurse’s questions, but he answered them, as he is still in the early stages of the disease. The cognitive decline and difficulties with motor function have not progressed to the point where this becomes a huge challenge.
Cognitive decline typically becomes severe after 10 years with the disease, and most patients are completely dependent on caregivers after fifteen. The timeline varies from patient to patient, but the disease inevitably progresses.
Javier has had the disease for two years, and already, it has taken a lot from him.
“Working, normally, I was always working. But in the two years with this (Parkinsons), it has stolen my strength. Even when walking now, it is not the same (as before the disease).”
He cannot paint anymore, or do other work, because his hands shake too much. Javier doesn’t like to leave his house; he said it is so difficult that it is impractical and makes him feel ashamed of his disabled condition. He also has osteoporosis, and a fall caused by the inhibited motor function typical of Parkinson’s could have serious consequences.
When a friend told him about a MEDLIFE clinic happening in his community, he made it out of the house and got help.
MEDLIFE has paid for three months worth of medication for Javier. This will help control the disease, slow its progress, and take some pressure off of his son.
“When I take the pills, I feel better. Sometimes, I can even move my hands,” he said.