Letters to the Editor: Caring for an elderly parent during the pandemic? Promise to care for yourself too

The Huntington Valley Healthcare Center in Huntington Beach
The Huntington Valley Healthcare Center in Huntington Beach on April 22. Nursing homes have been closed to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I wanted to reach out to Cynthia Ryan after reading her heartbreaking op-ed article on the challenges of taking care of her 83-year-old mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

My husband died from Alzheimer’s a few years ago, and I cared for him in our home until nearly the end, when his care became impossible to manage alone. What Ryan is dealing with can feel overwhelming and terrifyingly isolating.

I hope she can find a support group. I attended one that helped guide me to some answers and showed I was not alone. Caring for someone with dementia has been described as pushing a heavy load up a very long hill.


I set two goals during those long years: that when it was all over, I would have no regrets, and I would still have my health intact. I can’t say I was always perfect about that, but I made the best decisions I could with those two goals in mind.

One of the most important pieces of advice I received was to remember how much my husband loved me and wanted to care for me. He would have died to protect me, so I had to protect myself in his stead. Today I hold no regrets, and I am healthy; I wish the same for Ryan.

Mary Gilles, Los Angeles


To the editor: My family convinced my 90-year-old mother to move from her home of 56 years to a very nice retirement facility in December 2019. My mom has mild dementia, and we had hoped that moving to a retirement home would help her.

Unfortunately, the strict isolation policy because of COVID-19 has worsened her dementia. She has to eat all of her meals alone.

I urge Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer to allow limited nursing home visitation by family. The mental health of seniors is being harmed by such a strict isolation policy.

My mom turns 91 later this month. She should not be alone on her birthday.


Homer Hernandez, Torrance