Helen Bish waits for her ride by the door of her daughter's Pasadenahome every morning. The small van takes her to Almost Family, an adult day care center in Arnold.

"I don't know what I would do without them," said June Manula, Bish's daughter. "It's what people like meand my mother need. Without them, she'd be in a nursing home."

Bish suffered a stroke at the end of December and was hospitalized at St. Agnes in Baltimore through January. She was transferred to Baltimore's Kernan Hospital for rehabilitation and was sent home in February.

"She wasn't ready to come home," said Manula. "I work, andI had to hire a girl to come in. She (Bish) needed help getting out of bed, getting bathed and dressed."

The girl she hired stayed twoweeks, then quit.

"I cried all the time. I didn't know what to do," said Manula.

Nursing homes were an option, but not a popular one.

"I wouldn't want to go to a home," her mother said. "I had a sister-in-law who was tied to her chair, and she died at a home."

Fortunately, Manula's cousin read a magazine article about Almost Family.

"She gave me the phone number, and I called the next day at about 6:30 a.m. -- as soon as I got up," Manula said.

After an appointment with director Mark Saperstein and a medical checkup, her motherwas accepted at the center in March. Bish, 74, says she "loves" her daily trips to the Arnold facility.

"Everyday I do something else or meet someone new. They are so understanding. They are wonderful toa person with a stroke."

Her days at Almost Family include exercises, playing catch with a facilitator; painting cards or doing watercolors; a breakfast of toast, coffee and juice and a hot meal with daily snacks.

"They watch what I take like a hawk. I wanted a second milk, but they watch what I eat," she said.

The center also arranges day trips for its clients. Last week, they went to the county fairand are scheduled to visit the Amish market in Annapolis soon.

"Imade loads of friends," Bish said.

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