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A Caregiver’s Journey with Alzheimer’s

September 21, 2020 | Villa Cathay Blog

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. Finding a safe haven for individuals impacted by Alzheimer’s can be a long journey. We sat down with Francisca Ling, a beloved family member of Villa Cathay Care Home resident, Mrs. Elena Ling and learned about the family’s journey after Elena was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and how finding a suitable long-term care home helped their family heal.

Elena’s Early Life: From Shanghai to Vancouver

Mrs. Elena Ling, a 92-year-old resident of Villa Cathay, was born and raised in Shanghai in a very large and loving family. As the Cultural Revolution unfolded in China, the family decided to move to Hong Kong in the ‘50s, where she later met and married her husband of 65 years. Elena continued to live a happy and comfortable life with her husband where they raised five children together.

The Journey to Finding a Long-Term Care Home

“When my father fainted in front of me from exhaustion, I knew then we had to re-evaluate my mother’s care situation at home,” Francisca explained.

In the early 2000s, Elena was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her daughter, Francisca, began to provide round-the-clock-care for her mother in addition to balancing her career and family. Francisca’s life was changing as she and her father took on her mother’s primary caregiver roles for the next ten years.

“When my father fainted in front of me from exhaustion, I knew then we had to re-evaluate my mother’s care situation at home,” Francisca explained.

They began navigating the health care system to search for a viable care solution for her mother. Francisca notes that her mom (and anyone who is looking for a nursing care home) has to first try home care services, transitioning into senior daycare programs, before finally being eligible for long-term care. Francisca worked tirelessly with her case manager and geriatric psychiatrist to find a suitable nursing home for her mom. It took a total of three years after Francisca first opened a case for her mother before she eventually moved into her preferred long-term care home, Villa Cathay Care Home.

The Challenges After Moving into a Long-Term Care Home

The first few weeks after Elena moved into Villa Cathay proved to be a difficult time for the entire family. None of them have ever been separated from each other. Francisca was consumed with an overwhelming feeling of guilt and she questioned herself repeatedly, “Did I do the right thing for my mom?”. Her father couldn’t bring himself to visit for the first year because he was heartbroken knowing that Elena would stay at this new home without him.

Elena perhaps, found it the most difficult to adjust to the new environment. She was constantly wandering in the hallways, banging her walker and shouting, “I want to go home!”. The healthcare aides were always calling Francisca because her agitated mother refused to take her medication. Francisca struggled to know that she made the right decision to place her mom into a residential care home.

Elena and Francisca’s Moment of Hope & Happiness

“It was a healing process for me. I’m so grateful for Villa Cathay. You didn’t just help my mom, you helped to heal me as well, it was a long recovery journey,” Francisca concluded.

The turning point for Elena comes after she joins Villa Cathay’s weekly Wednesday karaoke singing group. While music is known to be an effective type of therapy for elderly with dementia1. Francisca says that her mother has always loved music, and it has been a great way to calm her down.

One day during a karaoke session, Francisca’s mother stands up from her chair and starts dancing and singing! In disbelief, Francisca dances with her mother. She vividly remembers that beautiful moment where she looks up and thanks God for her mother’s health and their blessings.


“It is a healing process for me. I’m so grateful for Villa Cathay. You didn’t just help my mom, you are helping to heal me as well, it is a long recovery journey,” Francisca concluded.

The Power of a Supportive Community

Now two years later, her mother feels content, calm and safe at Villa Cathay. Francisca and her father are happy knowing that Villa Cathay’s care team are now a second family to her mother. Francisca also finds herself a supportive community at Villa Cathay, amongst residents, family members, and staff. She advocates for caregivers to build a community amongst the families to support one another as caregivers for their loved ones.


Francisca and Elena’s story is a shining example of the kind of impact we can create when we lean on one another for support. Villa Cathay is honoured to be apart of Francisca’s moving journey as a caregiver and daughter to her mother, Mrs. Elena Ling. While Alzheimer’s Disease affects millions of people around the world, every individual who lives with Alzheimer’s has their own unique story to share. We are grateful to hear Francisca and Elena’s voices in our conversation about how Alzheimer’s affects their family and to know that Mrs. Elena Ling is receiving the care that is best for her. Share your story with #WorldAlzMonth and tag us on Twitter: @villacathaych, Instagram: @villacathay, or Facebook: @villacathaycarehome.


Long-Term Care Home Resources in British Columbia



  1. Vink, Annemieke Christine. Music therapy for dementia. https://www.rug.nl/research/portal/files/14427178/volledigedissertatie.pdf. Published 2013. Accessed September 21, 2020.

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