Adult Day Care

“Mom, do you know what you have?”

“What do I have?”


“Oh yes, I know.”

“Do you know what that means?”

“It means I’m losing my mind.”

“You’re losing your memory,” I say, knowing her statement is closer to the truth, but wanting to temper it a bit.

“Yes, my memory.”

“Well, these activities are meant to slow that process down.”

“But I don’t want to go,” she says.

I’m trying to convince her that she needs a couple of days a week at adult day care. As her disease progresses, all that time she spends alone, unstructured, isn’t good for her. Many days she’s not up and dressed until noon, and the 10 daily medications she is prescribed sit in their pill container long after she should’ve taken them. By the time she pours herself half a glass of milk and starts to swallow them, she feels dizzy, and Meals on Wheels is at her door, delivering her food for lunch.

My mother needs a routine, and more people in her life. Thank God for her two closest friends, who visit her at least three times a week. They take her shopping, help her with her puzzles, and clean out her refrigerator. They bring her food. They freshen up her apartment with new little tchotchkes as the seasons change. She couldn’t make it without them.

But my mom needs more than just a few visits a week, and in truth she needs more than any of us could ever give her. I live in another city, another state even, and I can manage to visit only once a week at the most. I call her every night. I work with my sister, who lives in an even more distant state, to make sure her stuff is taken care of. But it’s not enough.

We’ve had the adult day care center conversation many times, over many months. She puts it off constantly, saying it’s too expensive (mom doesn’t qualify at this point for Medicaid), saying she doesn’t want or need it, saying let’s wait. My sister and I decided it couldn’t wait any longer, and so I traveled to the facility, signed the paperwork to get her started, and scheduled her first days there.

“But I don’t want to go,” she says.

I tell my mom just to give it a try.

After several minutes into this conversation, she starts to cry.

“You’re just going to do whatever you want to do,” she says. “So just do it.” She is feeling defeated, it seems, and she’s ready to hang up the phone.

It’s not just the money my mother is worried about, it turns out, although that’s a huge thing. Ancient insecurities are coming to the surface for her. She’s a social person, has grown into one, that is, as the disease removes her inhibitions and shyness. But earlier in her life, she was afraid of people. She felt inadequate, unable to talk to people, stupid even. Now she is back in that place and has no concept of the present, where increasingly the company of other people relieves her of loneliness. In the present, her inner resources are wearing away, and people are a buffer for that.

I convince her to stay on the phone, not wanting her to hang up when she’s so upset. And then I cry, too, because I don’t know if spending her money on daycare is the right thing to do, I don’t have all the answers, and I’m just trying to help. I tell her all that.

She cries right back at me, because she knows I am a good daughter, and she doesn’t want to give me a hard time. She tells me that. She feels very guilty about her behavior, she says, and when she hangs up, she’s resigned to giving this a try.

About daughter3

My mom has Alzheimer's disease. She's 91 and lives in a nursing home. She has three daughters. I'm her youngest.
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6 Responses to Adult Day Care

  1. lulu1504 says:

    You are obviously a good daughter indeed! This is a really heart-wrenching account of what I reckon must be one of the most difficult things on earth. Try not to doubt yourself- you are obviously doing the best you can and it comes clearly from a place of love. I’m sure your mother would know that on some level. Make sure you get support from those that care about and love you.

  2. marina says:

    Beth, this is a great blog where you were able to express yourself. Very emotional. You are a very good daughter, I can tell it, showing your feelings and concerns in that very difficult situation. I can say, you grow with that situation and learn, and try to be strong, etc. This is very good that you put your feelings on the paper, other people have the same situation, and think that nobody can understand, or be in the same shoe, but we are all human, and we come to that part of our lives that we need to take care of our parents. This is very hard emotionally. Thank you. I will look forward to your new posts. Marina

  3. Dana Civitano-Hendrickson, PMP says:

    This is pretty powerful Beth.

  4. This is so heartbreaking, and definitely resonates with me for personal reasons. I hope that one day all the scientific research that’s being done will help in some way. And until then, I wish you and your mum all the best.

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