The family, all of whom lived at least an hour away, had been on her for some time now. “Grandma” was in her mid-80s, and although she was still in fairly good health, they kept telling her it was time to call a south shore Massachusetts home care agency. She needed to have someone stay with her, they said, even if it were for only a few hours a day. A non medical home care aide would help her take care of things around the house, make sure she was eating right, remind her to take her medication, and give her someone to talk to and keep her mind active.
After all, ever since her husband had died several years before, she had not been quite the same. This was a woman who had always enjoyed life to the fullest. She loved to laugh, to visit friends and family, to throw herself into any one of her many passions: painting, dancing, visiting museums, taking in movies. Now she seemed a little more forgetful, a little less likely to want to leave her home, a little more fragile. Even though she still very much enjoyed visiting with her children and grandchildren, without question her world had dramatically shrunk in size.
Yet, like the stubborn woman she was, she resisted – until she fell at home twice within the same week. Although she emerged with only serious bruising, she scared herself. She realized it was time.
It was then that the home care agency sent over Brenda, an outgoing woman about the age of the elderly woman’s daughter. It took little time for the two to bond. They found, their age gap notwithstanding, that they had many common interests. They both enjoyed reading many of the same authors and liked doing crossword puzzles. They loved talking about current events and watching certain TV shows. At first, Brenda was responsible for taking care of the laundry, doing some light housekeeping, preparing dinner, and spending some quality time sitting with her on the couch. Brenda drove her to doctors’ appointments – in fact, very often the office staff would assume, because of the easy rapport between the two, that Brenda was her daughter.
The job however took on additional responsibilities over time as an older woman became more and more debilitated and more dependent on her aide. The transition, however, appeared seamless.
Brenda, who at first would come for three hours a day, was spending five hours daily, and then eight. She was now helping her get out of bed in the morning, showering her, and eventually helping her walk from room to room. The family, which had once been so nervous over whether grandma would adjust to having a home health aide even spend a few hours with her, realized just how essential a part of her life Brenda had become. “I think she’d rather spend some with Brenda than with you,” her son would tease his sister. When the children and grandchildren (and now great-grandchildren) came to visit, Brenda was always treated like a member of the family.
During the last year of the woman’s life, when she was nearly bedridden, Brenda chose to live in. A few weeks later, the elderly woman died.
“I don’t know what we would have done all these years without Brenda,” said her daughter. “Mom would have fought tooth and nail not to go into assisted living or a nursing home. This way, she had someone with her who truly cared about her until the very end.”
At Cottage Caregivers, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact us to discuss home care as a possible long term solution for your loved one.