When You’re Your Mother’s Keeper

by Michael Winerip (New York Times – August 21, 2009)

WHEN Suzanne Cooper’s elderly mother moved in three years ago, her Alzheimer’s was in an early stage. The 84-year-old was still fairly lucid, so Mrs. Cooper could leave her home, while picking up her son, Griffin, from nursery school or going food shopping.

But in time, the mother turned more inward, having long conversations with herself at the kitchen table or just staring. “She goes into the other world and you try to pull her back, but it gets harder,” Mrs. Cooper said. She would come home with Griffin, 5, and find her mother sitting by the back door holding her blanket and looking lost.

Soon, the 49-year-old Mrs. Cooper couldn’t leave her alone and the days became logistical brainteasers, as she tried to balance the needs of her son and those of her mother.

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