by Jang Yeol of the Korea Daily
translated by Aruna Lee of New America Media
LOS ANGELES — Hyo-ju Han’s morning begins everyday at 6 a.m., when she rises out of bed and gets her husband, who has Alzheimer’s disease, ready for the day ahead. With the help of a nearby adult day care center, Han says she’s been able to manage, but pending state budget cuts threaten to end this vital source of care for her and many others.
Han’s husband was diagnosed with the mind-stealing disease two years ago, and she says the illness has advanced to the point at which he often cannot recognize family members and is thrown off by his surroundings.
“He’ll wake up and ask ‘Where am I?’ or ‘Who are you?’” says Han, age 70, adding that she’s increasingly losing sleep due to his “wandering off in the middle of the night.”
The couple’s children, moreover, live far enough away that visits are rare, making Han her husband’s primary caregiver.
In April she discovered the Western Adult Day Health Care Center, located near their Los Angeles home. Since then they have been making daily visits to the center, where Han says her husband receives much needed care and she gets a much needed break.
“It’s the highlight of our day,” says Han, who notes that it sometimes takes up to a half hour just to get her husband dressed in the morning. But it’s worth it, she says, to get to the center.
In addition to serving a healthy breakfast of porridge, fruits and milk, Han says staff at the center also sit with her husband and read the daily papers to him, or they gather with other seniors to watch the local news or do group exercises.
Since coming to the center, Han says she has seen a “steady improvement” in her husband’s condition. In a rare moment of lucidity, he turned to her and said, “Honey, thank you for sticking by me.” She nearly broke down in tears, she recalls.
The center also allows Han a brief respite from the rigors of caring for her ailing spouse. “Using the center’s services gives me a few hours to just take a breath,” she says.
But because of state budget cuts, most of California’s over 300 adult day health care centers are expected to see major reductions in service or close by the end of November. For Han and her husband, that means an end to free daycare service. Continue reading