After moving around the country for years while working in the healthcare industry with her husband, Debora Urquidez found herself grounded in Columbia.
Since early 2012, Debora has been taking care of both her mother and aunt in her home.
Her mother, Jo Ann Gelofsack, 82, has late stage dementia brought on by a stroke she suffered in 2006, and her aunt, Jacqulynn Nance, 87, has dementia that had been creeping up on her as she got older.
Debora, the primary caretaker for the two sisters, opted to keep them at home with her, where she can attend to them quickly and pick up on smaller issues that might otherwise go unnoticed at a nursing home.
“It’s like they’re reverting back to childhood,” Debora said when talking about their dependency on her and of her daily schedule for waking them, dressing them, and getting them ready for breakfast in the morning.
Debora makes sure her mother and aunt still enjoy life with numerous animal and bird feeders in the backyard so they can watch the wildlife. She also arranges spa days for the sisters to get their nails done and hair cut.
Making them comfortable and secure as the dementia progresses is what Debora had in mind when she and her husband made the decision to move the sisters to Columbia from New Mexico to live together again for the first time since they were young.
“It is hard because you’re watching your loved ones day to day,” said Debora. “You’re caring for them and making them comfortable while they’re dying.”
Photographed on assignment for The Columbia Daily Tribune