This mother-author keeps a vlog of her journey with dementia

This mother-author keeps a vlog of her journey with dementia

Lately, an elderly lady in house attire, most of her hair graying, has appeared on Instagram Reels and TikTok’s fyp feed. A younger woman’s voice asks her about a meal she just had, the weather or what she has in mind. And the lady responds, sometimes in a neutral tone, other times with clarity in her eyes and excitement in her tone, sometimes with a puzzled expression, the skin on her forehead rolling back, accentuating her wrinkles.

You might think this is just another random vlog that mindlessly fills your feed – senior citizens, after all, aren’t making weird observations on TikTok anymore these days – but hashtags in bottom of the screen will tell you otherwise. #alzheimers #dementia #diary #memory

Faith Maria Arriola
Ina on the lessons she learned from their mother: “Na-instill sa akin na it’s part of our duty as a responsible citizen to promote social change.”

The lady on the phone screen is Fe Maria Arriola, 79, or Peng, and the voice asking the questions is that of her daughter Oya. The vlogs are Peng’s video diary, a record of his ongoing journey with dementia.

The original idea was to have a written diary that Peng herself would update, which the doctor recommended. But she kept forgetting to do the journaling, and sometimes even forgets the events of her day. So her daughters thought about switching to videos. Uploading to TikTok and Instagram simply made it easier for immediate and extended families, as well as Peng’s doctor, to be informed of his condition. Peng herself sometimes returned to these vlogs to reminisce about past events, conversations, happy occasions.

A favorite, says Ina, Oya’s younger sister, is a video from their family’s recent New Year’s Eve party where their mother is seen lighting firecrackers, happily greeting everyone Happy New Year and singing “Auld Lang Syne”. At the end of the vlog, Peng asks about the guests: “Are we related to all these people?”

History of the Bourgis
One of the books written by Arriola.

There are videos showing Peng indulging in his favorite activities: having lunch with his family at a restaurant, crocheting or hanging out in the family garden on his rocking chair. There’s one where she talks fondly about her childhood, how “howshe was three years old and how teachers at a nearby elementary school loved that she was a “remarkable child”. In the caption, Oya wrote that her mother told her the same story six, seven times after she finished the vlog shoot.

And then there are some videos where we learn more about Mrs. Arriola, the woman and the kind of life she led. “I am old now. Before, I was very pretty,” she says, smiling. “I’ve written four books. I have written many articles. I was a very good writer when I was young.

With co-author Mariel Francisco and editor Gilda Cordero-Fernando
With co-author Mariel Francisco and editor Gilda Cordero-Fernando

Author, activist

Peng Arriola is an accomplished writer. In fact, she is the co-author of Mariel Francisco in the historical history of the Burgis. The book, which explores the contributions and traditions of the country’s upper class to Philippine society, has been reprinted seven times since its first release and was voted Book of the Year by the Manila Critics’ Circle and won the National Book Award for History in 1987. Peng also wrote “The Body Book”, “Si Maria, Nena, Gabriela atbp. : Kuwentong Kasaysayan ng Kababaihan” and “Luksong Tinik: A Practical Guide to Raising Filipino Children”, titles that address issues close to her heart: women’s empowerment, health and well-being, and the Social Action.

There’s even more to Ms. Arriola than the books under her name. She was an active member of the women’s movement. She was president of the organizing committee of Gabriela during the years of martial law. In a vlog, she vaguely remembers this period of her life. “I campaigned e. I don’t remember exactly what I did,” she said, searching her mind for a memory. “I created it…I forgot what it was called. But I established it. I was president. »

She also helped organize Teresa Makabayan, a protest group of St. Theresa’s College alumni formed in 1983 after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino.

At the first women's summit in Nairobi, Kenya, 1985
At the first women’s summit in Nairobi, Kenya, 1985

The signs

But Ms Arriola was diagnosed with dementia around seven years ago, a few years before her husband died. “We already saw signs back then,” Ina says. “She would forget the conversations we already had the day before. She would be confused. At the beginning only onceSO is more and more frequent. We did some tests and then it was confirmed by the neurologist (that she has early stage dementia).

Ina and Oya already lead a life of their own but spend a lot of their time these days taking care of their mother. Oya lives with Peng; Ina, 52, is herself a mother living in Cavite, her child is already 19 years old. The sisters can say that caring for their mother has been relatively easy, but there are challenges. Take the old lady to see her friends for a. (There’s a vlog where Peng says, “I’m bored. I have nothing to do. I don’t have any friends anymore.”) . “Sometimes she feels like it’s too much of an effort, and sometimes she’s scared she can’t keep up with the conversation,” the caption reads in the aforementioned TikTok post.

Stories told over and over again can sometimes become difficult to answer. And things get complicated when their mother says she doesn’t feel well but can’t express exactly how she feels. “This one is difficult because you can’t help it. You don’t know how she feels,” Ina says. “Sometimes I think she’s just confused by what’s going on. And so she’ll say, ‘I feel bad today.’ We would ask, ‘Where does it hurt? What are you suffering from? She’ll just say, ‘No. I just feel bad.

Sometimes Peng is just in bed all day sleeping. Sometimes she got up late. There was a time when she couldn’t eat at all, that was when she had hallucinations and seizures. “It was really scary for us,” Ina says. But by working closely with the doctor, they were eventually able to find drugs that worked and found the right dosage for their mother. “The dosage makes a very big difference,” adds Ina.

Faith Maria Arriola
“I want to thank her for everything she did for us, everything she taught us,” Ina says of her mother. “We are the women we are today because of her example.”

The influence of a mother

Despite the challenges of caring for a parent with dementia, the Arriola siblings have over the years adapted to their roles. They used to have bouts of impatience with their mother, but they have learned to put themselves in her shoes and often remember how much they love her.

There is no doubt that Peng Arriola had a great influence in the lives of his daughters. “She encouraged us to be who we wanted to be,” adds Ina, a lawyer specializing in renewable energy. “Never settle for what others say is your limit,” she says, echoing an old advice from Peng.

Back in high school, Ina wanted to be captain of the ROTC. But he was told in his first year that it was not possible; it’s a girl. “I remember telling my mom, ‘I’m just going to quit (training) because I’m not going to be an officer anyway. I’m just going to play basketball. And she encouraged me,” Ina recalled. “It stands out in my memory because my basketball years were the most fun years I had in high school, and that’s because my mom encouraged me.”

Peng has always been a powerful figure in Ina’s life. “I was the first girl student council president of San Beda Alabang in elementary school and high school, and Mom was always very proud of that.”

Oya, on the other hand, says her mother’s books on history and socio-political development had a huge impact on her life. She remembers her father and mother discussing the state of the country in the 1980s over the dinner table.”Already-infuse it’s mine it is part of our duty as responsible citizens to promote social change. And so, when I entered college, I joined student organizations, I also became an activist. Oya now works in social communication.

Ina says her and Oya’s career choices were largely influenced by their upbringing and the progressive mindset instilled in them by their parents. “I want to thank her for everything she did for us, everything she taught us,” Ina says of her mother. “We are the women we are today because of her example.”

Indeed, things are not always easy for the Arriola women, but the sisters assure their mother that caring for her will never feel like a burden. “Sometimes she has her moments—she feels like she always needs care,” Ina says. “Feeling he she is a burden. So my message to her is, ‘No, not at all. We love you so much and are happy to take care of you.

Photos courtesy of Oya Arriola

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