“It is emotionally and physically draining.”
Natasha Lazartes with her mother, Carmen Torres, and husband, Jonathan Youngman, at her home in Brooklyn, New York.(Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times)
39, Brooklyn, New YorkTherapist
I am 39 years old. I had to care for my father, who passed from cancer in 2019; my mother, who passed in November 2021 from cancer; and since my mother’s passing, I have inherited the care of my grandmother. She is 97, diagnosed with moderate dementia, and considered high risk to be left home alone. We had been applying for Medicaid long-term care to receive a home health aide since early November 2021. She finally got a home health aide in January 2022, but it’s been a nightmare. They are so desperate to hire workers that they will take anyone. She was left without an aide on many random days with a late-notice telephone call or text message from the aide needing the day off and the agencies not able to find a replacement in time. I have changed agencies multiple times. My husband has been a great support the entire time. We rely on security cameras we installed in our apartment to see how she is doing while we are at work. How is it on a daily basis? It is emotionally and physically draining. The health care system for the elderly is neglected, broken, and inadequate to meet any demands, even the basic needs.
“When I signed the lease, I felt like I was breaking my promise.”
Robert Ingenito shaves his father, Jerry Ingenito, at their home in Mamaroneck, New York, on July 5, 2023.(Maansi Srivastava/The New York Times)
44, Mamaroneck, New YorkPublic information officer
My father, who is now 93, had me late in life, at age 49. My mother died from cancer when I was 19. Literally on her deathbed, she said to me, “Don’t put your father in a nursing home.” Now, at 44, I’m married, I have a 6-year-old daughter, and for the past five years my dad has lived with us. I work about 20 hours a week, which allowed me to do something other than being his caregiver. If I had to put a price tag on the quality of care I provided to my dad, it would probably be the equivalent of a high-end assisted living facility. But it was becoming really hard for myself, my wife, and our daughter. His level of care was getting to the point of something I just could not sustain. He couldn’t be left alone. I wasn’t getting any sleep. Recently, I made the extremely difficult decision to move him into an assisted living facility. Fortunately, he has the financial resources to do that. For most people, that’s not even an option. I have been happy with the level of care that he’s getting, but when I signed the lease, I felt like I was breaking my promise. I tried my best to follow my mom’s wishes. But there’s only so much I could do, and I had to do it.
“I was a rebellious teen and she never gave up on me, so how am I going to give up on her?”
Karina Ortega poses for a portrait with her mother, Maria Mendoza, inside their home on July 12, 2023, in Dallas.(Desiree Rios/The New York Times)
My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in March 2020, but even before then, I knew something was wrong. One day, she went to visit a family friend and was going to donate some clothes to her. Seven hours later, we still hadn’t heard from her. She got lost. Eventually she found a supermarket that was familiar to her and got home. I’m no longer working at all. This has all taken a toll on my life. I do have a younger brother and an older sister, but my sister has a daughter in college and my brother has a 7-year-old. I’m the only one with no children and have always been the one who would take care of my parents. If Mom gets worse and I can’t care for her? That’s something I struggle with. Putting her in a home? In our culture, that’s looked down upon. I was a rebellious teen, and she never gave up on me, so how am I going to give up on her? I just can’t see it in me to leave my mom because she needs me.
“She passed in October. The state says we still owe close to $20,000 for the year Medicaid paid for her nursing home.”
Gay Glenn looks out the window of the home she is staying in, which belonged to her mother, Betty Mae Glenn, in Topeka, Kansas, on Feb. 24, 2023.(Arin Yoon for The New York Times)
61, Topeka, KansasActor
It was costing us $8,000 out-of-pocket to have people come into my mom’s house to help her, and that was only eight hours a day. I’m watching her savings just dwindle. And then she fell. And then she fell again overnight. At the hospital, they found she had a cracked sacrum. She was in rehab for the maximum number of days that Medicare will cover and couldn’t return home. Because she owned a house, had two rentals, savings, and two cars, she had to pay long …