Errol Rappaport

Errol Rappaport had a full and wonderful life in Los Angles. Producing Polo events for charities at the Will Rogers Polo Club, West Coast Editor for Black Tie Magazine, a Real Estate License with Rick Hilton And Jeff Hyland, doing Strategic Community Relations for Charles Cohen at the Pacific Design Center, and other work he enjoyed. When his father and mother asked him to come back to New York because they needed his help, he gave all this up

Being a caregiver for a parent can be a lonely road.” Errol came back to New York, at first, three years ago to take care of his father, David at his request. At first, Errol would bring his parents to Palm Springs in the winter and fly monthly from his home in LA but the commute and the strain proved to be too much and Errol gave up living in California and moved to New York. In April 2011, David Rappaport died but his wife Frances was even more in need. Frances started having signs of Alzheimer’s eight years ago and after David passed away, Frances needed Errol’s help to stay in her home and live a normal life. She is well aware of her surroundings and takes pleasure in the routine of her days. She loves seeing the view from her window, taking daily rides to the park with Errol, Tammy or Maia and going for coffee and a bagel and the company of others. She watches her favorite tapes of Dean Martin and Fiddler on the Roof and if you sing the first line of a song, she will cheerfully join in. She worked hard all her life to achieve this status and Errol is working hard to make sure she is in comfort and beauty, continuing a quality of life some see as unnecessary. There are times when she doesn’t know who you are, but a gentle reminder jogs her memory and she lights up with recognition.

The strain of dealing with a disease that takes away one’s mental capacity is hard enough, but fighting one’s family to keep a quality of life is another. Errol now has to deal with both. Some of the saddest care giving stories concern siblings regarding their parents’ care. Court feuds end up ripping away the funding desperately needed to care for a loved one. It’s expensive! There are different standards for quality of care and siblings have different relationships with a parent. Patience with someone with Alzheimer’s is a must and not always easy, but remembering they are just as frustrated as you should ease the frustration.

Did you know Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging? It is not just a disease of old age, up to 5 percent of the population has early-onset Alzheimer’s (also known as younger-onset), which often appears at 40. The majority, however, is 65 and older. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and dementia symptoms gradually worsen over the years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions. Research continues and although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the symptoms and improve quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.

Here are some of the symptoms:

1: Memory loss that disrupts daily life

2: Challenges in planning or solving problems

3: Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.

4: Confusion with time or place.

5: Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.

6: New problems with words in speaking or writing.

7: Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

8: Decreased or poor judgment.

9: Withdrawal from work or social activities.

10: Changes in mood and personality.

The answers to the questions of Alzheimer’s care are intensely personal, but these concerns affect nearly every family who has an older parent with this devastating disease. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, many older people prefer regular social contact. Keeping your parent in their preferred activities with other people helps prolong their quality of life. Some parents have loving children who have the ability to keep their parents at home to create a legacy of loving care. I have witnessed Errol’s relationship with his mother and come to know and love Frances. You pray that when you become older and less in control, that someone loves you and cares for you as much as Errol and the care-givers, Tammy and Maia, who give his mother the finest care and are like daughters.

I watched as all their love and care nursed Frances back from a horrible cough. If she were to be put into a home she would lose what Errol has managed to give his mother…dignity, respect, nurturing and unconditional love.

Errol has given up his life for his parents and does so willingly, joyfully and with love. He brings her fresh roses because she loves them. He shops for fresh food daily so she has wonderful healthy meals. He has a manicurist come to the house so she can feel pretty. Ask any woman – this is love.

What Errol does for his mother, you wish for others. Anyone who has a heart and soul would feel the same way.