FOR TWO YEARS, ANNABEL CLARK HAS PHOTOGRAPHED MOMENTS in the lives of adults who care for their parents. Some of the children are seniors themselves, like Eva Welch, age 73, who looks after 92-year-old Maggie Middleton. The two share a two-bedroom apartment in Harlem.

Six years ago, my mother finally had to give up her house in Alabama. I had her move in with me.

A health-care worker comes every day now from 8 to 3. It’s a relief, because I don’t have to worry about leaving Mom alone. The health-care worker helps Mom get ready in the morning, and I fix breakfast. Then I go buy groceries and scratch-off lottery tickets. Every month I get a break—two days in Atlantic City. I pay a person to stay over and take care of Mom.

I’d like to be free to do whatever I want, but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s not pleasant for Mom either. She can’t half hear or half see. And she is kind of forgetful. She has her childish days.

As long as my mother can get up by herself, I will keep her here. When she can’t, I’ll have to move her to a facility. I told her that while her mind was still sound, and she agreed.

I don’t want my kids to do this. I want to stay right here and have someone come in to look after me.


First Person originates at the other end of the stethoscope, presenting essays and commentary from patients, consumers and other medical outsiders. Proto invites your contributions; please send ideas to the editor.