Sophia and Ericka Rodriguez’s conversation is part of our series produced in partnership with StoryCorps to help change the narrative around neurodegenerative disease. 

From left, Ericka and Sophia Rodriguez

Sophia Rodriguez became a genetic counselor after learning her mother had a genetic form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. She spoke with her sister Ericka about living with and caring for a mother who began showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease in her late 40s.

In this conversation, they discuss the ways they and other family members reacted differently to the changes in their mother, the experience of missing out on an adult relationship with her, and how they have chosen different paths in coping with the high chance that they will develop early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Listen to the conversation

From the recording:

“After I found out about her being positive … my insurance wasn’t covering genetic counseling. … I found a genetic counselor, it was a year wait at the time, to be seen by a genetic counselor close to my area. So I had a year to think about things and arrange everything. I got a long-term care policy, I got life insurance, I went all out. At the time I was a paralegal and I had a little bit of an idea about what this meant and the legality of things. I got my stuff in order.”

— Sophia Rodriguez

“I always hear, ‘Oh, my mom,’—[from] my friends and people that I see have babies—’Oh, my mom was over at my house and stayed a week in the house helping and doing all the things I need. What would I do without my Mom?’ I’m like, ‘Wow!’ Like, I didn’t have that. I got dropped off at my doorstep after, when I had come home from the hospital. I walked in to my apartment by myself with Devin, I was freaking out.”

— Ericka Rodriguez

More about Sophia

Sophia Rodriguez

Sophia Rodriguez is a board certified genetic counselor specializing in Alzheimer’s disease research in the Latino population with a passion for healthcare advocacy for the underserved. Her work experience includes research and clinical trials for gene therapy for inherited retinal disease, as well as consulting and creating educational content for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease aimed to reach Hispanic communities. She is also committed to raising Alzheimer’s awareness and support for policy changes.

Sophia has a master’s degree from the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College. She grew up in Cliffside Park, New Jersey and loves anything related to cats, coffee, and food, and enjoys cooking, working out, and watching documentaries on just about anything.

Thanks to our friends at Our Odyssey for introducing us to Sophia. Our Odyssey’s mission is to connect young adults impacted by a rare or chronic condition with social and emotional support in the hope of improving their quality of life. Get involved with them at