Living with a mental illness can be daunting. Caring for someone on that journey comes with its own unique challenges.
Tech Guerrero adapted his life to become a caregiver when his mother was diagnosed with dementia. Now he’s trying to balance her treatment, his career and their new day-to-day.
On a sunny afternoon at the Dallas Zoo, Tech Guerrero stands behind his mother Maria Luisa Castillo Rocha’s wheelchair, snapping photos of lions in an enclosure. The family is here for the zoo’s Wild Gatherings program, designed for people with early-stage dementia.
The program gives Guerrero, whose full name is full name is José Antonio Guerrero Castillo, a chance to connect with other family caregivers from across North Texas, sharing advice and anecdotes. His mother gets to embrace nature.
“She’s a retired banking manager for international banking in Mexico City, so she used to be very social and very verbally engaged,” Guerrero says. “And we’re here because we’re hoping that she will oil those motors of social engagement.”
Castillo Rocha is 90 and has been diagnosed with vascular dementia. Symptoms can include trouble paying attention, problem solving and slower thinking. Decades ago, Castillo Rocha mentored other young women in her professional life. Friends and coworkers knew her as a great conversationalist, someone you could confide in.
“I did not learn that my mom had any form of dementia until probably one or two years after she had been diagnosed,” Guerrero says. “And obviously, being the person affected by it, she didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention to it.”
Guerrero got worried when his mother started showing symptoms, and he began making longer visits to see her in Mexico City. It took some convincing, but eventually, they decided she should move to Dallas.