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Caregiving Roles: The Personal Attendant

A young mother has a second job: taking care of her mother’s basic needs


Olivia Garcia, 34, an insurance agent and mother of two daughters in Cape Coral, Fla., cares for her mother, Rosalinda Ovalle, 62, who has Alzheimer’s disease and frontal lobe dementia. During the week, Rosalinda attends adult day care, which is covered by insurance. 

"I’m not sure how I do it all while still having a full-time job, being a wife and mom to two kids in elementary school, and keeping up with household chores."

— Olivia Garcia
spinner image Changing Roles Caregiving, Garcia Family
Photo by Edward Linsmier

My mother came to live with us in 2013 because she needs 24-hour care. I get her up in the morning, help her shower and get her dressed, make sure she’s fed and her medications are taken, and get her on the bus for day care. She usually comes home before I do, so my family helps her get settled. We try to squeeze in some evening activities before feeding her dinner and giving her medicine, and then I help her get ready for bed. Basically, I wait on her hand and foot and give her what she needs. I also keep her engaged with card games or dolls, doing her nails or her hair, or taking her out on the weekends. 

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spinner image Changing Roles Caregiving, Garcia Family
Photo by Edward Linsmier

Olivia makes sure her mom is eating well and taking all her medications.

spinner image Changing Roles Caregiving, Garcia Family
"It was difficult in the beginning," admits Olivia Garcia, 34, of caring for her mother, Rosalinda Ovalle, 62, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2013.
Photo by Edward Linsmier

We’ve come a long way since she first moved in. One of the biggest challenges occurred in  2015,  when she was fighting us on everything. She was paranoid and angry and physically aggressive toward people. This was shortly after we had taken the car away from her because she would leave it stranded if it wasn’t working right. That happened three times, and the last time it took four weeks to find it. Also, she wasn’t eating, sleeping or taking care of herself — so we knew we had to get her some medicine to help her calm down. Mom also suffers from diverticulitis, which landed us in the hospital several times and presents another set of challenges.

Olivia helps her mom get ready for adult day care before she goes off to work.

I’m not sure how I do it all while still having a full-time job, being a wife and mom to two kids in elementary school, and keeping up with household chores. I know for sure I wouldn't be able to do it without help from my tribe and strength from God. We’re very blessed to have a system that works for us. My mom and I have always had a good relationship, and I wouldn’t want her anywhere else. I feel good knowing that she’s well taken care of and still has some dignity. 

— As told to Stacey Colino

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