Advice for caregiver of an elderly woman

Here’s the situation: My parents are the primary “caretakers” of an elderly family member who still lives on her own (widowed a few years back) and is pretty self sufficient except for the fact that she can’t drive, has macular degeneration, and does not hear well. Her biggest problem is loneliness and as a result an over reliance on my parents. They take her to all appointments, shopping, help her with bills (not paying them, but mailing them off), and are pretty much her main social contact with a few exceptions here and there. They spend a good majority of their time with her and including her in various activities, but they also have their own lives, jobs, volunteering, etc. The elderly woman gets lonely and depressed. It is hard on my parents who are really devoted to her. They accept their role as caregivers, but I really think they need a little help. And I think as time goes on, this woman will continue to lost her eye sight and hearing, and then what? Her health is excellent otherwise, but she is 90.

My mom recently brought up to me the idea of a companion–someone who is hired to spend time with this elderly family member. I am wondering how in the world would you go about introducing this idea? It seems insulting to suggest that someone is going to be paid to come spend time with you. On the other hand, everyone in this situation would greatly benefit from something like this, if the right person was found.

I guess I am just trying to help my parents navigate this responsibility. I just feel like they lack information. It would be great to direct them to a forum with others in the same situation, to offer them links to support organizations, to hear your personal experiences, etc. Any insight will be greatly appreciated!

God bless you for caring and for seeking out solutions!

Your parents are not alone that is for certain. You have not divulged where they live and if it is a metropolitan or a rural area so it is difficult to give specific advice. However I would begin by contacting your local Catholic Charities, also your local county social services agency and other charities. In addition there may be a local outreach agency that serves seniors?

Unfortunately finding the right resource is probably going to be a bit of a “pain” as it is rarely the situation where one phone call does the trick. Often it seems like endless phone calls, internet searches, more phone calls but keep looking! It is important that you find a good resource and someone that has passed good background checks too. There may even be volunteers too that are not paid to provide what you are looking for.

Again God bless you and please be assured of my prayers for your family.

Hi… There are resources in the community for an elder. I would suggest that your parents contact the nearest Elder Services agency and ask for help. They have various services including homemaking - someone to come in and help with light housekeeping and meal prep. Also they can do grocery shopping. There is also Visiting Nurse’s agencies… if the elder has any medical issues that need to be monitored…she may qualify for a nurse to come in to her home. Another suggestion is to hire a Geriatric Care Manager - that person can help set up all sorts of services for the elder. Another thought… depending on the elder’s financial situation an Assisted Living facility can offer alot - of course the elder would have to agree to move into such a place. There are also Adult Day Health programs available - these programs not only provide socialization for the elder, transportation is available. They also have nurses that work at these programs, so the elder is being monitored medically. There are things available… it depends if the elder is willing to leave the house and attend a day program. Change is very hard for an elderly person. They are set in there ways… A word of caution … if the elder is depressed… be certain to watch for signs of increasing depressed mood that could be potentially serious… change in sleep patterns - sleeping too much or not sleeping well, any weight loss… feelings of hopelessness, helplessness. Let me know if you need any more suggestions. God Bless the Elder and your parents. :hug3::blessyou:

there are many organizations that do volunteer work and use college students and high school students. My son belongs to a fraternity that does a lot of volunteer work in the community. He’s currently helping out at a Catholic School. He spends a few hours a week supervising the playground and cleaning the cafeteria. It wouldn’t be hard to find a sorority or fraternity that would send in volunteers to visit the elderly.

My mom died two years ago at 98. She lived on her own until maybe the last year or so when I did get her into an institution as she required a high degree and amount of basic personal care at the very end. I live a long way from “home” and no other family members live where I do and I worked. So, when I convinced Mom to move to where I am so I could keep an eye on her, help her etc, I became her only care giver, friend, daughter, pal, transportation–the whole bit! Thus, I was her primary care person for over the last 10 years of her life. Mom was a lot like your folks elderly friend–infact I smiled as I read your post–it brought back memories.! Mom too had macrimal degeneration and limited hearing even with the hearing aids I got her–and it got worse by the year, not better. I used to tell my husband that the bottom line with mom was that her mind was fine, her body was failing, and she was blind as a bat and deaf as a door nail!! LOL!!

Anyway, I went through a community service agency and got her qualified for a certain number of hours/week of what they called “chore assistance”. That meant they were there to do her laundry, sweep floors etc–but the truth is, the chores they often did were to talk to her, run her by my office to say “Hi”,help her do crafts as long as she was able, play cards with her and so on. Then, I’d swoop in on the weekends and it wasn’t so bad–as otherwise she’d have been on the phone demanding my presence daily.

It’s hard getting old–I don’t look forward to it. But it’s even harder on caregivers as they have to worry about the elderly person–plus most are still working, have their own family etc. I’d simply present it to the woman as a fait-accomplis–“We have hired someone to help with things around your house as we just can’t do it all.” She may grouse a little at first- Mama did anyway–but she’ll get used to it quickly too, I bet–and if she’s anything like my Mom, she’ll probably even make friends with her helpers and look forward to the different face! Care givers like your parents have to set limits though. If they don’t, they basically become almost personal slaves and have no life of their own.:slight_smile:

If the right person was found–that is the key. Maybe someone from church or someone you have known a long time. Are there grandchildren, nieces and nephews who could rotate? I will keep you all in my prayers.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.