Celina Raddatz and her mother, Guadalupe Pena Villegas, at home in California. Xavier Vasquez/NPR
by Franziska Monahan
“Celina Raddatz quit her job at a nursing home in 2014 when she realized she would have to take care of her mother full-time. Raddatz’s mother, Guadalupe Pena Villegas, 83, suffers from Alzheimer’s and bipolar disorder, a combination that sometimes makes her a danger to herself and others, and thus requires her to be supervised 24 hours a day.
“Raddatz and one of her sisters, Rosalia Lizarraga, 61, had been caring for their mother together. But as the Alzheimer’s progressed, the task became too stressful for Lizarraga. The full responsibility fell on Raddatz, who was determined to fulfill a promise she and her siblings had made their mother as children.
“‘When my mother was sane, she made us promise never to put her in a nursing home. And of course, us young kids said, “OK, mom we would never …” Raddatz says. ‘But we never ever once ever thought that she would get sick like this.’”
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